Go your own way: Unconventional career paths are the new normal

There used to be one way through a career, and it was upward — usually with one company. But flexibility has become such a big part of modern life that our working journeys are taking on a whole new form.

People used to get an expensive watch or a fancy crystal decanter when they had stayed with a company for twenty years. Now if you speak to someone lucky enough to be on a long-term incentive package with their job, ‘long term’ is usually classed as about three to five years. People don’t tend to stick around for so long.

We have become the itchy feet generation. A band of workers whose idea of a career ladder has been replaced by some sort of incredible career climbing frame that can lead us in any direction. Side hustles, re-training, going for jobs that seem completely and utterly out of our comfort zones, it’s all pretty normal now. Normal – but exciting.

The Great Resignation

These cultural changes in working practices happen gradually over time, but there is little doubt that the pandemic, and the shift towards hybrid working, accelerated a change in many people’s notion of what a career could and should be. Lockdown took every element of ‘traditional office work’ and turned it on its head. It meant that suddenly there was no commuting; instead, there was time to see friends and family and do some exercise. People could learn to crochet, meditate, or even build a small business of their own. They began to reevaluate their priorities and when the world started moving again they took steps to address their previous work-life imbalances. That led to the start of the Great Resignation in 2021, when record numbers of people started handing in their notice.

It all means that employees are less predictable now, and they absolutely need a job to be ‘worth it’. There are of course, still the traditionalists who want stable, permanent roles, but as more and more people take their careers into their own hands, many employers have been left complaining of a talent shortage. It’s not as easy to replace staff like for like as it once might have been.

Finding talent

Globally, just 35% of workers who quit in the past two years took a new job in the same industry, according to stats by McKinsey. The immediate effect of this is a talent shortage – where did all those workers go? According to Manpower Group, in 2022, 75% of companies globally reported difficulty hiring – the highest in sixteen years. There is no longer that pool of clearly defined candidates to automatically apply for any new vacancy in their eye line.

But the ripple effect is perhaps more positive. These gaps mean businesses have had to become more creative and open-minded when it comes to hiring, and the freedom to move and change has become more achievable. Large companies are increasingly looking at work as project-based rather than role-based, meaning their workforce can combine both freelancers and full-time employees. They can hire workers who are able to come into the office or people who are living on the other side of the world — it doesn’t matter as long as they are the best talent for the project. It’s what author and influencer Josh Bersin has referred to as a “pixelated workforce”. “Every individual in every different type of work is a mini ‘workforce’, each with its own way of doing business,” he says.

Building your network

We have found that these modern workers – creative, flexible, and personally driven – have gravitated toward our Spaces locations. It means that each office is like a mini ecosystem, where people from different industries work alongside each other and discover links and overlaps in their roles and their networks. Our fully equipped workspaces, designed to encourage informal conversations and natural networking opportunities, as well as planned social and business events, help to build and grow these productive communities – it’s part of our mission because it’s exciting to think that you could be doing something completely different in a few years’ time and that you have the ability to switch up your life, should you ever need or want to.

Whether it leads to your own entrepreneurial journey, or to joining an industry that you never believed possible, flexible working can open doors – or rather, lead you up and across the career climbing frame.

Get in touch to speak to one of our experts and find out how Spaces can help you and your business become the best it can be.

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