Imagine this: It’s 8 am on Friday at a local Woolworths cafe. There’s an aroma of freshly brewed coffee and energy of ambition in the air. Freelancers, entrepreneurs, sales reps, and contractors sit detached in heavy concentration; notebooks open, laptop screens visible in every corner. Welcome to the millennial age.
The way we work is changing.
For emerging millennials in the workplace, traditional standpoints are becoming a thing of the past and flexibility is the goal of choice. Specifically, creating a better work-life balance and adopting habits to prioritise health and well-being.
When you consider this progressive mindset and our ever-evolving technology, the possibilities for growth seem endless. However, with that being said, we still have a long way to go when it comes to fully embracing a new way of working. Change often fuels a sense of uncertainty and uncovers questions we need to address. What does this shift mean for businesses and self-employed professionals?
And more importantly, how does it impact our already fragile economy?
One thing we do know with absolute certainty: millennials and Gen Z are the future of the workplace. Experts predict that in 2020, millennials will account for 35% of the global workforce and Gen Z will make up 24%. That’s more than half the global workforce population. This indication alone tells us that businesses and professionals need to get on board with a more modern way of working – one that includes the rapid expansion of technology.
Paving the way forward
Digital transformation and the millennial mindset are our present and the future so best we learn to adapt fast. To get a true sense of our economic reality, we only need to look at once-thriving Forever 21, Macy’s, and GAP. These are a handful of international chains that have recently closed their doors for good. And yet, it’s not only global outlets that are affected; Edgars in Rosebank mall has turned their lights out and Massmart (which owns Game, DionWired, and Makro) may well be closing 34 stores.
What’s known as the retail apocalypse has become a new normal as we transition into a landscape of AI and technological advancements. A time where convenience and accessibility outweigh in-store shopping and experiences are preferred – often expected – as part of the consumer journey.
But what does this mean for South African businesses as a whole, beyond the retail sector?
Simply put, the traditional way of working will soon become a thing of the past. Brick and mortar buildings are still favoured by many CEOs in spite of studies highlighting the advantages of flexible working – most importantly, improved productivity. Why is this relevant? To put it bluntly, our economy is struggling. South Africa’s unemployment rate is projected to be 29% this year. Given that millennials and Gen Z are the future, it seems a huge part of the problem lies with an outdated way of doing things.
The future of work and a support-based culture
Old fashioned standpoints, corporate structures, and hierarchies are falling away on a global level. This substantial shift has opened the door to a diverse, inclusive, and technology-enabled way of living and working. The future of work encompasses collaborative problem solving, social learning, and contributing to a support-based culture. These elements are fundamental to the growth of a thriving economy.
So how do we as South Africans, implement change in the way we work? It starts with education – beyond a schooling system. We need to adopt a mindset of becoming life-long learners in an ever-changing digital age. This means continuously re-examining our skills and upskilling when they become irrelevant. As the working landscape shifts, so too is the way we absorb information.
Skills development is a crucial part of professional growth, specifically for millennials.
These digital entrepreneurs and innovators prefer social learning to fixed learning schedules or booked classrooms. Outdated ways of learning impact the way we think about, value, and do work. We cannot expect a thriving economy when the focus for work-based skills development is vastly underrated or ignored.
Let’s consider a few more stats: 70% of Africa’s population is under the age of 30 and South Africa’s youth population stands at around 35.7%. This is a substantial opportunity for skills development, growth, and advancement. Employment openings such as entrepreneurship and a better attitude towards changes at work increase with the right training. This in turn, positively impacts economic growth and improves society in general.
In business, knowledge sharing is the free exchange of insights, expertise, and experiences used to empower individuals and benefit the company as a whole.
What began as water-cooler moments of knowledge-sharing in the early 1900s, has evolved into mass media consumption. News and other content are now available at the click of a button. However, this single way of learning and consuming information does little to contribute on a greater level to an economy desperate for mass skills development. What we need is a more knowledge-sharing culture that is inclusive, diverse, and adaptable. In a world driven by change, learning is the only permanent we have for growth and relevancy.
Knowledge sharing is the key
Today, the way of learning and exchanging information is characterised by change, collaboration, interconnectivity, and active engagement. This looks like peer-to-peer learning, virtual collaboration rooms inside organisations, and the progressive evolution of technology.
“Technology can help more people and more broadly than any other industrial revolution,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said at 2016’s World Economic Forum. “It doesn’t mean everyone’s got to be a computer scientist; digital technology can, in fact, bring skills to a much more under-skilled population because of their ease of use and the ease of access to technology.”
As mentioned, an economy is as strong as its skills-developed people.
Without ongoing learning and knowledge sharing, our economy stays stagnant – or worse, it declines. While many employees have the advantage of in-house company training, entrepreneurs and business owners often feel isolated and overwhelmed when it comes to upskilling. How do they improve their skills in the right areas while still experiencing the same camaraderie as their employed friends? The answer lies in learning and giving – a cycle of never-ending knowledge-sharing that evolves just as quickly as our technology does.
“As more technology professionals devote more time to mentoring, they will sow the seeds of a future workforce capable of using internet connections to change the world.”– Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Cisco Systems Inc.
The key is being connected with like-minded people and a community where relevant information and problem-solving are shared. When we feel connected, we are that much more empowered to grow individually and professionally. And this is where our economy could dramatically shift. Imagine business owners feeling empowered to bring on new employees with this modern-day approach to learning, all the while being part of a supportive network.
Knowledge sharing is the future.
It is how we work better and share responsibility for creating change in the South African and global economy. Seats2Meet is proud to be part of that solution.
We designed a social business ecosystem to connect people, share knowledge, and grow stronger together. Our S2M Passport facilitates virtual environments and physical co-working locations around the globe, including South Africa. It is an infinite system of business support from social mentorship and coaching to relevant events and training. Seats2Meet South African users gain access to more than 178 locations, 1784 innovative workspaces and 363 global meeting places and, most importantly, thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide from which to tap into for information, collaboration, and business opportunities.
An affordable business opportunity
If you are entrepreneurial-minded and looking to start a business, you can easily set up your own hot-spot co-working space for entrepreneurs to work together. All you need is a welcoming attitude, a space for a few desks, electricity, decent Wi-Fi connection, good coffee, and of course – the unique Seats2Meet booking system. You will get access to ongoing support and global connections.
For more information on how to start your own business opportunity, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cape Town Seats2Meet business festival
Join us on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of February 2020 when we host the first South African Seats2Meet business festival in Cape Town. This is a festival about the future of work, finding work, becoming an entrepreneur, and creating a balance between work and life.
What you can expect:
Daily masterclasses, exciting workshops, local and international speakers, and a few surprises are on the lineup. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, this is one event you don’t want to miss. Click here to find out more or to book your spot.
- Dates: 20, 21, 22 February 2020
- Time: 09h00 – 13h30
- 1 Day: R440
- 2 Days: R630
- 3 Days: R890