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Book Excerpt | The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud – Part 2

Part 2: Who Moved My Cube?

It may be terrifying for those caught in the vortex between the old and the new way of work. Most professionals earned the right degrees, responded to the demands of their professions, learned the intricacies of their industries and were rewarded under the old system. It feels like a massive betrayal that an entire system is falling away.

The truth is that the cube was moved in part by a new breed of professional. They are skilled and passionate global workers who want the freedom to choose the type of work, rather than choosing a job based on its proximity to their homes. Rather than being hindered by location, they are able to compete based on talent and passion. While most of us were sleeping, they unknowingly leveraged cloud and mobile technology and created the New World of Work. And it was their passion for work, rather than some indiscreet evil force, that caused work to seep across boundaries and find its way to this new breed of talent.

Let this chapter be a call to action for those most affected by the New World of Work. Professionals need to reinvent themselves in order to compete in the New World of Work. Conversely, companies need to wake up to the reality that competing for the best talent locally will soon be a thing of the past. The best person for a job no longer lives within a fifty-mile radius of your corporation.

Where Have the Good Jobs Gone?
According to Gallup Research, Americans believe that the countryʼs most pressing problem is the lack of good jobs, In a recent Gallup study, people chose the lack of jobs as the countryʼs biggest problem over healthcare, the economy, the environment, and even global terrorism. The thirty million Americans who are either out of work, or significantly underemployed in the worst recession since the Great Depression, are left bewildered, confused and in many cases lost.

But itʼs not just America reporting these problems. Every industrialized nation in the world is dealing with persistent, systemic unemployment and underemployment. This stagnant job market is chipping away at national resources, citizen satisfaction, and pure oldfashioned hope. And, it doesnʼt appear to be getting better.

The lack of good jobs is truly the most pressing issue in the industrialized world, but this challenge can easily be solved if companies and workers begin to think differently. The work still exists, but the jobs we once held, do not.

Forget the Cheese. Who Moved My Cube?
After the 2000-2001 dot.com bubble burst, an entertaining book helped displaced workers find their way through the aftermath of the Internet bust and became a catchphrase standard in common culture. The book was Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson.

Unfortunately for the workers involved, this time itʼs not just the cheese that moved, but also the restaurant, the farmersʼ market and the grocery store. Everything is different. For the most part, workers can recognize that something about the job marketplace appears to be different, but most professionals canʼt put their finger on what the problem is or where their darned cube went.

Hereʼs why most workers canʼt see the opportunities of next generation work: theyʼre looking for the jobs they lost, which in most cases, no longer exist.

Itʼs Time to Wake Up!
What displaced workers donʼt realize is this: not only is that old job not coming back, it has probably been broken into small pieces and sent into the cloud for completion. The truth is that the lost job isnʼt coming back, at least not in the form it left, because work has been fractionalized, virtualized and globalized.

Even traditionally safe careers, such as professional sales positions, have been obliterated in this job recession. According to US News and World Reports, 400,000 sales positions have been lost since 2008, but not because the work wasnʼt available. Many of those sales positions were fractionalized as companies moved sales positions to more efficient channels. These new channels included mobile sales tools and outsourced sales channels where contract labor is abundant.

For professionals looking for work, this notion is hard to accept. Maybe they donʼt want to admit it, or maybe job-transition groups are simply providing stale advice. Either way, itʼs just not working.

Global professionals who want to compete in the New World of Work must rethink their careers and begin the long road of rebranding and reinventing themselves. Like it or not, everything has changed.

The truth is, in the social/digital decade ahead of us (you know the one, where technology changes in an instant) jobs will change just as quickly. Professionals who want to capitalize on the New World of Work have to think differently. The online virtual-work market is estimated to be more than $1 billion in 2012 alone, and itʼs predicted that a massive one-third of the global workforce could be hired online by 2020. Some reports argue that it could be as high as 50% of global workforce.

Take This Job and Move It
Letʼs explore a few roles that have changed in the last four years, to help you better understand the cloud-based world around us:

Administrative Assistants: Once a stable of corporate luxury, administrative assistant jobs have been declining for a decade. Today, those jobs are easily crowd-sourced to the tens of thousands of virtual assistants who now work from home. (Crowdsourcing is defined as a distributed problem-solving and production model.) As Time noted in an article about the crowdsourcing phenomenon, "We're looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it's just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy."

According to Marketwatch.com, businesses trying to weather the economic downturn are turning in huge numbers to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): meaning that theyʼre looking online to hire thousands of people for support positions in their organizations. According to the Q2 2012 survey by Freelancer.com, hiring of virtual assistants increased by 18% to 3,770 jobs during the quarter, demand for MS Word processing skyrocketed 119% to 1,594 jobs, and data processing hiring was up 16% to 21,274 jobs, with hiring of people with skills in Excel up 13% to 22,947 jobs.

Professionals: Your job didnʼt go overseas this time. Instead, it went into the cloud and another professional working from home (but not always in his PJs, as was once perceived) is now taking those service calls. According to IBIS World, the number of temporary workers in the U.S. is on the upswing, and will continue to increase at least through 2017, reaching 3.5 million.

Engineers and Programmers: As technology has become more streamlined, so have the ways in which itʼs programmed, designed and engineered. Companies have moved this work into the cloud through such brands such as Amazon, Google, Genesys, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and a host of others, including EMC, Cisco and Red Hat. That translates to a range of cloud-related development jobs - often from remote locations - for engineers and programmers.

Project Managers: Do you know that there are more contract jobs available to you on Elance.com and oDesk.com than there are physical project management jobs available on recruiting job boards across the U.S.?

According to an online employment report on Elance.com, the company posted 197,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2012. Online Employment is a $1B industry comprised of companies with online platforms for hiring contractors. It's in double-digit growth mode driven by global expansion and favorable workforce trends.

Marketers: Your industry has been obliterated because of the double whammy of the job recession coupled with new social and digital-marketing strategies unfolding each and every day. Your profession was listed as Number Two in the list of Top 10 Dying Careers in the June 2011 Forbes article "The Disappearing Middle Class". But, donʼt despair! You can now take your skills to the cloud and find a global network of companies who want to hire American marketers powerfully trained in famously effective American marketing strategies.

Let us be clear: This isnʼt an attempt to scare you. Instead, it is meant to inform professionals to understand that the work still exists: just in a different form. And, it means that itʼs time to think differently. The old job system is disintegrating before our eyes, and itʼs being replaced by platforms that give professionals powerful new options for taking their passions and skills to market. Gone are the days where we have to accept management styles like those mocked on The Office, and long commutes followed by even longer work hours. Today, we can create our own jobs. We can put together work streams of projects that we enjoy, rather than being forced to do tasks simply because they are considered part of the "other-duties-as-assigned" aspect of our job description.

Now professionals can freelance skills through Elance, Working Solutions or oDesk. For passionate graphic designers, thereʼs LogoTournament.com and 99Designs.com both of whom are actively seeking designers, copywriters and marketing professionals to compete openly for projects and be paid based on the quality of work rather than the time spent doing it.

"In this new world, the worker is in control of the work they select, the hours they work and a work choices that are built around their lifestyle." Rich Peterson, Chief Marketing Officer of Elance

Even the HR Department Canʼt Find the Cube
Just look at any job-posting board and observe the manic trend played out. One week a company advertises for a marketing communications specialist. A week later that job is pulled down, and now the company wants a PR manager. Then, a few weeks later, that job disappears and the same job is titled social media specialist.

Whatʼs the deal? Why does the same job have three different titles? And itʼs not just occurring in marketing; the phenomenon is occurring in IT, sales, finance, and operations.

So what is going on?

Yesterdayʼs jobs donʼt exist, and tomorrowʼs careers options are changing faster than a teenage girl changes clothes. As a result, most companies are caught between their old way of sourcing talent, and these next generation work models.

So both business leaders and working professionals are frantically looking for onceearthbound jobs. The fact that they canʼt see them doesnʼt mean they no longer exist; they have simply moved.

Work Has Moved into the Cloud
Hereʼs how dramatically the job marketplace has changed: currently, work opportunities are more readily available virtually than locally. And most of the new virtual work options are contract jobs with performance pay, rather than the archaic and bureaucratic work system that compensated employees with wages and benefits for time well spent, rather than work well done.

Since a large portion of the virtual work is being redistributed through contracts on virtual work platforms, those countries whose citizens access these platforms will win the jobs war, because thatʼs where the work can be found. According to the Financial Times, as it turns out, workers from developing markets are capitalizing on virtual workforce trends. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine and the Philippines are among the top providers of virtual workers, with millions of hours of brainpower exchanged every day on the Web. The result is what the publication refers to as "impact sourcing", which is increasingly becoming an important source of income in these countries.

And, as virtual collaboration tools and mobile technology improves, virtual work will become easier for a hyper-available workforce digitally connected from anywhere and at any time.

If the United States - AND ITS WORKERS - wants to win the job war, we must rethink the concept of work. Jobs have moved from the cube to the cloud, and the countries whose professionals capitalize on this trend will win the talent war.

You Can Win This War
For professionals who are left confused by the new talent market, the critical shift that must be made is to stop looking for jobs, and to think more about work. You should be asking yourself:

• What type of work am I most passionate about?

• How do I prefer to work?

• What type of company and culture appeals to me?

• In what roles can I be effective?

Professionals who want to compete in this New World of Work have a huge advantage if they can stop worrying about their job and build a new career strategy. This book is designed to give professionals a map to this new world, whether that professional is a hiring manager, a corporate executive trying to develop a competitive talent strategy, or a job seeker stuck between worlds. Without boundaries, workers are free to compete in new ways, and companies will compete for talent, and maximize their future (and profits) one worker at a time.

So, what does tomorrowʼs workforce look like? What will be changed? What will remain the same? What are the trends and how can we capitalize on them? We briefly introduced the three keys trends in Chapter One, but letʼs take a closer look at them individually, learn what they mean for our economy and find out why we should care. Understanding how these new trends have removed work boundaries is critical to maximizing the New World of Work.

Letʼs explore these trends and begin to create a New World of Work Roadmap.

This is an excerpt from The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud by Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell. Republished with permission. Copyright © 2013 by Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell

More Stories By Tim Houlne

Tim Houlne is a visionary whose longstanding, futuristic predictions about the virtual workforce is now a reality. He recognizes and understands trends, and uses that unique knowledge to transform industries across the business landscape. His understanding of the virtual workplace is unparalleled, and his drive to uncover new concepts is matched only by his passion for growing profitable businesses. Tim holds the position of CEO at Working Solutions, a premier virtual agent and technology solutions provider in Dallas, Texas.

Tim has authored multiple articles and white papers covering a wide-range of subjects including Top Traits of High Caliber Agents, Platform as a Service, and Contact Center Security – Moving to the Cloud. He is a highly sought-after speaker for industry conferences, business summits, and schools. His passion is helping others embrace new concepts and ideas that improve the lives of working professionals while ensuring excellent bottom-line results.

More Stories By Terri Maxwell

Terri Maxwell provides game-changing insights that transform businesses, people, and industries. She is an impactful, passionate leader known for simplifying formulas for success and igniting potential. In a career that spans more than 20 years, Terri has put her talents to work for large and small companies, and is a well-known consultant to small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate growth.

Throughout her career, Terri has delivered sound solutions to large and small companies, producing unprecedented results and igniting growth. She has launched more than twenty start-up brands, built numerous successful companies, and created a well-known and highly respected business incubator, Succeed on Purpose, Inc. in Irving, Texas. She is the author of Succeed on Purpose: Everything Happens for a Reason, a book teaching how to use lifeʼs challenges to uncover your purpose.

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