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10 years, 10 new ways of working and doing business

07 Jan 2020 04:30

It seems like only yesterday we were saying goodbye to the noughties and hello to the 2010s and now we are starting a whole new decade. Back at the tail end of 2009, Barack Obama had just been inaugurated, the iPhone was new on the scene, Avatar was the highest-grossing film of all time and Barclaycard was leading the roll-out of contactless cards. Fast-forward to 2020 and it’s fair to say things have changed a lot – in the world of business as everywhere else.

Advances in technology have redefined many areas of our lives, from the way we like to shop and spend to enabling a better work-life balance. As the digital revolution has flourished, the new information age has seen several new working and business models blossom as organisations seek to give consumers and workers more flexibility and control.

As we move into a new decade, we take a look back over the past ten years and the ways businesses are adapting, leading to new ways of how we do our jobs and go about our everyday lives throughout the 2020s. 

  1. The gig economy
    Arguably one of the fastest-growing work trends of the past decade, the gig economy now supports 4.7 million workers in the UK;  or one in ten working-age adults, according to a study by the TUC. Having more than doubled in size since 2016, this new approach to work offers workers freedom and flexibility. As seamless payments take the friction out of the experience, the gig economy is also a revolution among consumers, increasing their choice and convenience in everyday life. 
  2. The subscription economy 
    Barclaycard data shows that spending on digital content and subscriptions grew by 9.8 per cent year-on-year between September 2018 and 2019. To meet this growing consumer demand, brands are finding creative ways of packaging their products as convenient, subscription-based solutions. Research from Verdict shows 65 per cent of retail businesses are moving with the times and adopting the subscription model; from organic vegetables and flowers to cosmetics, craft gin and eco-friendly toilet roll.
  3. Pop-ups 
    As a means to reengage customers, brands are creating diverse and intimate pop-up events to form a new wave of retail experiences. Estimated to be worth an impressive £2.3 billion in the UK, the pop-up industry capitalises on the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect. Generation Z are most likely to spend time at immersive and emotional shopping experiences as they value the opportunity to have unique experiences.
  4. The experience economy 
    Businesses are also tapping in to the growing trend of consumer experiences. In 2018, Barclaycard research revealed more than half of consumers (52%) would rather spend their money on a good experience than a product. This year our “Gigplomats” research found Brits were spending £975m a year on experiences they themselves weren’t interested in – just to make their loved ones happy. Advances in payment acceptance devices means consumers and brands alike are enjoying streamlined options when out and about at experiences.
  5. The sharing economy 
    As consumers and brands alike attempt to reduce their carbon footprint, according to Warwick Business School, 62 per cent of the UK are using sharing economy apps and websites. Online skill swaps and local services are also available, with 78 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds using such services. Businesses are already looking at ways to employ skill swaps, with the potential to significantly alter our ways of working in the years to come.
  6. The Side Hustle 
    In 2020, everyone can be an entrepreneur. While people have always had passion projects, advances in technology and flexible payment options have seen an increase in micro merchants with their own ‘side hustles’.  Where previously, people would have been held back by high marketing and start-up costs, social media, e-stores and flexible business card options now allow them to reach their target audience and easily manage their cash flow.
  7. Collaborative workspaces 
    The global demand for flexible workspaces  is set to grow by 30% annually for the next five years according to Jones Lang Lasalle, changing the way thousands of businesses of all sizes organise their workforce. Freelancers and SMEs cite increased networking opportunities, lower overheads and access to a range of amenities like meeting rooms and conference facilities as key reasons they love shared working spaces.
  8. Flexible working
    From its roots mainly benefitting working parents and carers, flexible working has evolved to encourage a better work-life balance for all. Millennials are one of the driving forces for change; a 2018 YouGov report revealed this demographic places work-life balance over job security. The same report found that only 6 per cent of working Britons were completing the traditional nine-to-five hours, emphasising the change in attitudes that has already taken place in the workplace. Many organisations, like Barclays, offer dynamic working programmes to help provide a better work life balance.
  9. Increased trust and transparency
    Trust and transparency have been key words this decade, equally important for both your target audiences and your suppliers. With evolving personal values over the past ten years, we’re seeing this awareness for greater ethics filter through into every area of business. Social media channels have influenced where consumers go for trusted advice and similarly, supplier relationships have changed with new tools and platforms being designed to elevate trust and transparency throughout the supply chain.
  10. Remote working Increased interest in workers’ wellbeing in recent years has led to a rise in working from home. The Office for National Statistics reports that the number of UK remote workers has increased by a quarter of a million over the past decade. As smartphones get smarter and digital conference systems connect people across continents with ease, the need to be ‘in the office’ has diminished over time - allowing organisations to offer more flexible working arrangements.

With the world of consumer behaviour and work growing in so many directions over the past decade, it can be difficult for businesses to decide which new ways of working are best for them. While there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, businesses must carefully consider the changing landscape and how their target audience is likely to engage in the future. This will ultimately determine which business model will be most appropriate and should help see plans future-proofed into a new decade of business.