There’s no denying that the structure and the way we work both in Australia and globally is changing before our very eyes. Workers are increasingly participating in non-traditional employment models – many by choice. Flexible work conditions have become a major priority for modern workers.

With time-shifting communication and collaboration tools, individuals see the days of 9-5 in the office as a bygone and are looking for workplaces as flexible as they are (CoActive8, 2015).

In times past, workers often stayed in the one job all their lives. Now, there is a shift towards a model of having several vocational changes throughout a person's career. The words liquid and flexible work have increasingly popped up when current employment trends are discussed.

Although there are many reasons for these changes, one of the causes comes from the supply side – the workers themselves. Workers are increasingly craving employment arrangements that fit around their lives, as opposed to their lives fitting around work.

Here are just three reasons flexible work models have sprung up / are on the agenda:

Lifestyle Considerations

From parents who care for children during the week to those seeking a better work-life balance, flexible employment structures are pursued. A report by CoActiv8 entitled Liberated Work states that “across ages and caring obligations, individuals are seeking opportunities to work on-demand when it suits their lifestyle.”

Technological Advancements

Another phenomenon that has allowed workers to achieve greater flexibility in their working lives is that of advances in technology and the information economy. A report by CoActiv8, found that “Increasing access to information is allowing people to move more readily between roles – making work a more liquid experience of moving between projects, teams and companies.”.

Aging Population / Workers

Flexibility in the workplace is also being increasingly sought after by older workers in Australia. A recent PwC study – 1-2 skip a few 99-100: Is the public sector planning for the 100 year life? – looked at this issue in the public sector. It found that while Australian Public Service (APS) employees in the 1980s were on average less than 35 years old, in 2015 they were on average 43.5 years old.

pwc study

PwC Study: 1-2 skip a few 99-100

As a result of the 1-2 skip a few 99-100 study, PwC recommended that the APS embrace part-time working arrangements and telework to not only attract but retain older workers. This would enable them to work from anywhere, work when they wanted, and to work for more than one employer.

There are many types of working requirements and arrangements in this new world of flexible work. One such category of worker has been labelled the “office nomad”. A relatively new trend, office nomads are also on the rise.

The “Office Nomad” Defined

According to Bernard Salt, KPMG Demographer, “an office nomad is someone who works for an office occasionally and then wanders off to other locations”. Office nomads work in a range of different locations and at times that suit them or their clients / employees.

In line with this new flexibility and surge of workers, office nomads generally do not work the 9 to 5 traditional office hours; they fit their work around their lifestyle and other responsibilities; and, more often than not, are members of the professional and knowledge industries.

Where might you find an office nomad?

Many office nomads partake in coworking spaces, where, “unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects” (Harvard Business Review, 2015). They physically share the workspace and the costs associated.

While it might initially sound like a contradiction, the independent office nomad also often craves a sense of community and the benefits that a shared workspace provides – such as interaction with like-minded people, creativity, idea sharing, supportive environment and even a dedicated physical location.

Without question, change in how and the way we work is already here. The traditional employment model doesn’t suit a large segment of both employers and employees. It will be interesting to see what new employment models develop into the future!

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