Working Tribes: 30 years of changing work


Working Tribes: 30 years of changing work

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The world has changed considerably since Regus set up its first flexible office space back in late eighties


In 1989 Sir Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea of the World Wide Web, the Berlin Wall came down bridging East and West, and the first Global Positioning System satellites went into orbit.

The impact of those events reverberates through society to this day, changing both how we live and work. While flexible workspace may not seem as historically monumental, it too has played a part in shaping how people work in 2019, with 85% of businesses introducing or considering a flexible workspace policy in the past 10 years.

So, to celebrate 30 years of Regus offices, we have looked at the new ‘tribes’ of workers that exist today thanks to changes to the way we work.

The old fashion 9-5ers

Let’s remind ourselves of the ‘regular’ working type, the steady employees who clock on at 9am and leave by 5pm. While we may still consider this to be an ‘average’ working pattern, just 6% of people in the UK say they now work these hours. In fact, almost four in 10 (37%) full time workers say – where they have the choice – they would prefer to work from 8am to 4pm.

Side hustlers

These are the workers who have a side project or business alongside their main gainful employment. This could be for additional income, to develop and hone new skills, or to set up their own business. Latest figures show almost two-fifths of UK workers now have a ‘side hustle’ and the number is expected to increase to half of the adult population by 2030.

The growth in side gigs and businesses can be traced back to the 2007/08 global banking crash. According to Companies House data, the number of new businesses in the UK has risen every year since 2008 and a record 608,110 were set up in 2015. It’s been argued that the increased uncertainty about job security and difficulty finding work can foster a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism. Those that came of working age during this time have this instilled in them and have continued it beyond the 10-year anniversary of the recession.

Side hustlers

Multi-hyphen workers

Can be called freelancers, self-employed or those with portfolio careers: whatever the name, working for oneself in a career that utilises a personal passion or skill is on the rise. More than 320,500 self-employed people in the UK now no longer work just one job, but instead have two or more.

Much like the side hustlers, the multi-hyphens are partly driven by the fallout from the economic crash. There are other influences behind this trend, however. Many prefer the working style of sourcing numerous income streams that utilise their varied skills, talents and interests. This could be a part-time office job supplemented by further freelancing, selling items online, writing and podcasting, and perhaps some tutoring on the side. If you can find the time, of course.

Digital nomads

Also known as global grasshoppers, these free-spirited workers pick up freelance employment in different cities and countries around the world. Seen as aspirational by many, this working style offers personal freedom, the opportunity to travel and a rewarding work-life balance.

From copywriters to computer programmers, people with online-based jobs can take advantage of the remote nature of their work from anywhere. Of course, it’s not all plain-sailing or working with an ocean view. Organising visas can be costly and time consuming, tax returns can become extra complicated and you may have to contend with fluctuating currencies. Of course, there’s also the added difficulty of finding new work in different places.

Flexible workers

From fully remote roles to requesting office hours that support working parents, these concepts of flexible working are increasingly available. But as the above working styles show, there is far more to flexibility than hours and location.

We’ve seen great change in just 30 years of flexible workspaces, and with the increasing application of AI, robotics and machine learning, we expect office space and the world of work to evolve even further over the next 30.

Flexible Workers


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