Because there’s still so much to do to make the modern workplace even more engaging and profitable for all parties involved, it’s sometimes easy to forget how far we’ve come over the past century.
Here are six ways the workplace has changed over the past century.
1. Enforcement of Government Standards
Until the turn of the twentieth century, there was no such thing as a labor union for workers, and companies could employ and exploit minors and children. Some employers would even fire employees who couldn’t or wouldn’t work over 15 hours per day for very low pay.
There were no standards enforced for a realistic workweek or even a minimum requirement that employers had to follow for workers’ wages. And companies were not federally mandated to secure safe working environments for their employees.
While we still have a long way to go for equitable workers’ rights, employees still can’t be paid below minimum wage and don’t have to work over 40 hours per week and can sue companies for discrimination. And the Department of Labor was established to further enforce workers’ rights across the United States.
2. Increase in Knowledge-Intensive Roles
With technological innovation came roles like “data analyst” and “information scientist.” While there are still many roles that require physical labor, most roles across the entire workforce are now knowledge-based and don’t require physical machinery or physical labor.
According to Pew Research, 83% of occupations now require social skills and 77% require analytical skills, while only 18% require physical skills.
3. Higher Levels of Education Are Needed
Pew Research also finds that most employable individuals who work in occupations that require higher social and analytical skills have obtained at least a 4-year degree.
Overall, the current workforce is requiring most employees to have a more advanced education than it did a century ago. And many occupations also require supplemental credentials or certificates, as well.
4. Social and Communication Skills Are More Important
Over the past decade or so, we have seen more emphasis placed on social and communication skills inside the workplace than ever before. Now we focus on employees’ emotional intelligence skills and aptitude for servant leadership, for instance, when this was certainly never the case a century ago.
5. Workspaces Are Very Different
As office jobs became more popular, we’ve started seeing more and more cubicles and open workspaces. And with the growing number of people who work remotely, we’ve also seen the rise of the home office and traveling office. Additionally, offices have become more collaborative environments overall, where a century ago each office worker worked in solitude.
6. Technology and Automation Made a Huge Impact
It’s also no secret that word processors and cloud drives have completely revamped the modern-day workplace and that platforms driven by artificial intelligence continue to help professionals automate mundane tasks and workloads more efficiently.
While the above list does not reveal an exhaustive list by any means, it still reveals six critical ways in which the workplace has evolved over the past century.