The change in the face of the workforce has been one of the major evolutions in the past several decades. Over even the last two decades of workers, the way in which the workplace operates and the hierarchical structure have changed entirely.
With the rise in connectivity facilitated by modern technology, everything is moving toward creating a global market. This includes the production, marketing and consumption of various products, but it also includes the people that make all of that possible. The result is much higher competition for employees, but the lack of dependence on geographical location also allows for better team-building options, and less instability in specialized workforces. Today, it's imperative that the entire business world consider the planet as a single market in many respects, and have some type of strategy to deal with everything that's out of direct geographic contact.
Shifts in authority
At one time, it was widely accepted that the higher you rise on the managerial ladder, the more ultimate authority you have in the workplace. In many highly-structured workplaces, bosses expected to be obeyed without question, and some unscrupulous individuals took the opportunity to give underlings the lion's share of the work. These underlings, in turn, would do as they were told because it was widely accepted that you should be loyal to a company, and put your job before everything else until retirement.
Today, the idea of company loyalty persists to some degree, but more and more individuals in the workforce are turning the attention to personal rather than corporate development. A job is only worth what it can offer to the employee and his/her family. Bosses are expected to lead by example. In the United States and similar work areas, it is commonplace to question the boss and bring their priorities or methods into question. The average amount of time an employee spends in any one job may be quite short, and people now expect to have several jobs throughout their work lives.
Changes in diversity
The face of the average corporate workplace in the United States used to be the white, middle-aged male. While women and/or minorities might have been hired in service roles, these men were the ones who could expect career advancement. The insistence on equality in opportunities not only ensures better jobs for a variety of people, but also encourages diversification in cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in any given workplace. This lends itself to greater innovation, and business perspectives that more accurately reflect that of the general population.
Flexibility and freelancing
One of the biggest workforce trends is in creating the greatest amount of flexibility for employees. Many people would love to stay home and raise kids, or be free to pursue hobbies or charitable causes, but few can afford to do so without a job. Consequently, a rising number of companies are implementing flexible scheduling, allowing a larger degree of self-determination in working hours.
Freelancing is a huge workforce trend that allows flexibility for the worker, as well as cost benefits to the business. The freedom to choose work hours and jobs appeals to many individuals, and a number of companies have realized the benefit of only paying when work needs to be done. Freelancing or telecommuting also reduces the necessity for large office locations and a lot of office equipment. This reduces overhead and maximizes efficiency for the business, as well as for the person who would otherwise pay to travel to work every day while also paying for their home that stands empty.