Article by: Brigitte Schedl-Richter

Trends

Work in Progress: Jobs in the 21st century.

Bene AG

Who would have thought 50 years ago, that today you no longer need a single typesetter for newspaper and book production, yet another industry will earn really good money with the development of games and moving images? Or that companies who work in a field to reduce energy consumption will provide just as many jobs as companies that work in the field of traditional fossil energy. Well, some things have changed rather rapidly in our Brave New World and 1984 is a thing of the past. A glance ahead into our near future of job trends forms the conclusion of our "Work in Progress"-series.

In the "past" everything was different and maybe things really were easier in the "olden days". You did an apprenticeship or a degree and often stepped happily into the footsteps of the previous generation and gained a feeling of security. And you stayed in this job. For decades.

When was this "past"? Good question. Apparently it has not been that long ago. What we can describe much easier on a time axis, however, is that today we have a greater diversity of training options and jobs. To confirm this simply have a quick look at career platforms or university directories. Eureka!
 

Jobs are always situational.

If our living conditions change, then our jobs change too. If you want to learn more about current or future jobs, then it makes sense to find out more about the essential factors which influence our societal developments.
One of the so-called "mega trends" is surely the demographic and social change.  Based on the total population of Earth, the number of people on this planet keeps growing (145 babies born every minute), however, in many countries the birth rates are declining and existing society becomes older and older.

Trends

Work in Progress: The Carpenter

They are and always have been profound experts and sought after craftsmen, or even celebrated artists or functionally-aware designers. Their material comes from nature and what they manage to create from it bears eloquent witness to human culture. There has rarely been a profession which has been able to stay so important without losing touch with the present.

The conditions are naturally perfect. Wood, in addition to stone and metal, is amongst the most important materials of humankind in almost any place of the world. Even the industrial revolution of the 19th century did not put a sudden stop to this. 
The early machines usually still had wooden frames or wooden mechanisms. Only with an increase in requirements for wear strength or load torques did iron managed to oust wood from its dominating position in favour of greater load bearing strength and breakage resistance.
 

And in the beginning there was…

One of the first and at the same most impressive traditions in elaborate wood art dates back to Egyptian times as one would expect from the ingenious Egyptians. In 3,500 B.C., the Egyptians already recognised how versatile wood was and how is easy it is to work.  Veneer technology was already used for ships, buildings, furniture and objects for daily use and a type of plywood was developed. The sarcophagus of the god-king Tutankhamen is a special example for early craftsmanship.
The wood craftsmen of the Greek and Roman empires perfected these work techniques mainly by developing new tools. Amongst others, the plane as we know it today was finally developed from little spades which were used to smooth the wood. Furthermore, not only domestic woods were used but for special purposes rare and exotic woods were processed thanks to the active trade in the ancient world.

Work in Progress: The Project Manager

Some say it was the wrath of God, others state it was arrogance.

True, the reasons for the failure of the mythical Tower of Babel may be disputed. However, despite this dispute, we would like to use this example to present to you the job of a project manager as part of our info series Bene Office "Work in Progress" in which we look at specific occupations. A profession which has become so sought after in our modern professional world.

Project managers are by now in demand in pretty much all sectors. Desperately in demand, one may want to add. Project management is modern and popular. It is the absolute economic magic word and makes a kind of promise. But stop! One thing after the other. Let's have a look at what a project manager normally deals with: A project.  And we shall use a mythical story to explain this concept.

Employer Branding. Wanted: The best of the best

A company that gets poor reviews on bizzwacht.de, arbeitgebercheck.at or kununu.com can be faced with real problems when it comes to finding qualified, motivated and therefore valuable new employees. Websites such as these are only part of the new blend of techniques used in increasingly sophisticated employer branding strategies.

The largest employer review website in the German-speaking world has – in its seventh year of existence – some 600,000 reviews available online to read. And every day 900 new ones are added. Even the founder of kununu was rather surprised by the site’s popularity. Nevertheless, statistics show that one out of every four internet users reads reviews of employers and about 70% of them take these reviews into account when they are deciding on a job offer.
 

Not completely new

Although employer branding has been around since the late 1990s, it has only become a prominent topic amongst leading businesspeople and HR professionals over the course of the past few years. But it is still in its infancy compared to consumer-oriented marketing. And it is only just now that people are starting to take note of social media’s importance in all of this. That is surprising, given that HR staff have included checking the web presence of potential employees as a standard part of the hiring process for some time now.

Keyword Trust: Dare to trust

Trust has become an issue in light of banking crises, NSA practices and political promises. Needless to say, if our lives were to become a trust-free zone, all our social and economic relations would quickly fall apart. We would no longer do things with each other or for each other, since our actions and decisions would need to be based on such values as truth, accuracy, integrity and competence. For this reason, it is certainly a good idea to open the door to trust, even though there is still some uncertainty. By definition, one cannot exist without the other.
 

Knowledge is not everything – but it helps

What is worthy of our trust? That’s a difficult question. However, knowledge can certainly be a catalyst for trust, and there is no harm in drawing on experience and know-how when deciding what to trust. Yet the answers to the questions regarding trust will be completely different – always highly personal and not purely rational. A shortlist is attached from the Bene Office.Info editing team. It may also give you something to think about in terms of "building trust"...

Is your company innovative? And if it is – do you know why?

Today more than ever, innovation is the key factor behind a company’s long-term commercial success. But what exactly does that mean, innovation? How does it work? What role do chance, creativity and a structured process of innovation play? What factors support creativity and lead to innovations? What goes on in someone’s head when that idea first sparks, and how long is the path from idea to innovation? We’ve made our way through a veritable jungle of innovative advice for you…
"I think there is a world market for about five computers" said Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943. Three years later, Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of the film corporation Twentieth Century Fox, predicted: "Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

These are just two examples of numerous errors when it came to predicting the success of innovations. Whatever else one can draw from these assertions, one thing is perfectly clear: innovation is more than simply invention. Innovation has to do with implementation and marketability as well as application. Or to put it another way: so many excellent ideas never become examples of innovation.
 

Not simply technology

When talk turns to innovation, we think first of product innovations. That’s no wonder, since these are the most tangible type and are often marketed specifically as innovative. Examples include a revolutionary piece of software, a vacuum cleaner that works in a completely new way or a thin film solar cell.

Aside from these, there are numerous other types of innovation, such as innovation in the way we use things. In this kind of innovation, existing technology is applied to other areas. One light-hearted example of this would be piano stairs: steps are turned into giant electric piano keys to motivate people to forego the lift for the stairs. Eureka!

Beating the Drum for Teamwork, or: Achieving more Together

Complex tasks require successful teamwork. Whether old hands at working with one another or newly brought together, a good team is capable of achieving things that a single individual could not possibly bring about on his or her own. But what makes for a good team? How does working together function at its best, and which factors have a positive impact on a team’s success? Read more below about seemingly obvious truths and noteworthy aspects of teamwork.

Even before walking into the Yellow Room, as Meeting Room 2 is called, Florian could see through the glass wall that the mood in the space was positive. Four of the six team members were already gathered there and were contentedly and diligently preparing their documents while Doris, the team leader, was using the whiteboard to diagram the steps leading to the next milestone. She was an excellent team leader who understood both how to motivate her team about their work on the shared project as well as manage the responsibilities and deadlines in a transparent way. Florian felt confident that he could expect another constructive meeting.
 

Is teamwork "in"?

Whoever takes the time to follow current discussions about teamwork will encounter a profusion of contrary points of view. On the one hand, teamwork is euphorically praised as the perfect instrument for cooperation, productivity, and economic success in the so-called knowledge age. On the other hand, there is a great deal of disillusionment. Instead of the independently operating group of experts working together towards a common goal, we seem to often end up with a chaotic bunch, revealing poor leadership, aimlessness, and an absence of a sense of responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility – too good to be true?

Photo: photocase.com/Yunioshi

Let’s be honest: morality is not a private matter, even though we may get that impression when looking at our ever so advanced societies over different historical periods. Committed activities can make people sit up and take notice, change their perspective, and raise a new awareness. Actions that come under the banner of “CSR” are already required from a relatively wide community, and it means something that should have been obvious for quite some time: namely, that businesses should recognise their responsibilities to the environment and to society, in the full sense of Corporate Social Responsibility. Too good to be true?
Whether it involves company nursery places, eliminating questionable materials from production processes, preventing discrimination, creating resource-saving product designs, or engaging in charitable causes – CSR can be applied in a thousand different ways.
 

More than just a definition

In the English-speaking world, the term "Corporate Social Responsibility" is already part of the standard business lexicon; in German-speaking countries, however, it is only gradually establishing itself. In this country, "sustainability" has made it into the limelight – measures that could fall under either term tend to be assigned to the latter. The number of sustainability reports therefore exceeds the number of CSR reports (for now) – in some places, they are even called CSR sustainability reports. This is not completely unjustified, as both topics are indeed interrelated because CSR measures can promote sustainable development.

Crowdsourcing: when size makes a difference

photocase.com/zettberlin

Four eyes can see more than two, ten thousand creators are more innovative than ten, And two million collaborators together have greater knowledge than two hundred. No surprise then that crowdsourcing is currently experiencing a real boom.

The fact that innovation is no longer found solely in research and development departments is common knowledge in the meantime. Entirely new aspects and perspectives are provided as soon as departmental boundaries are crossed and employees from other areas are also invited to contribute their ideas, thereby ensuring benefits for everyone involved. Why then should we stop at the limits of the company? There are countless creative minds all over the world with differing backgrounds, approaches, ideas and skills: could they not also be incorporated into the process? Of course they can – and here we find ourselves at the heart of crowdsourcing.
 

Not an Internet invention

The term "crowdsourcing" was supposedly coined in 2006 by journalist and blogger Jeff Howe (Wired Magazine), but the principle has been in use for a considerably longer period of time and not just since Wikipedia and InnoCentive both emerged in 2001. The concept really started in 1900 when the National Audubon Society, an American NPO specialising in the protection of birds, called on the public to take part in annual counts of all the birds in the western hemisphere. A number of other examples can be found from the pre-Internet era, but there is no doubt that the web has absolutely perfected the possibilities available through crowdsourcing by providing far simpler access to a considerably larger crowd.
 

New ideas from outside sources

One of the reasons for implementing crowdsourcing is the simple but ingenious supposition that the innovation potential and problem-solving skills of a large number of different people are greater than those of just a few individuals, who most likely have similar skills and therefore similar restrictions in their thinking which keep them from looking far beyond the end of their noses. So if internal attempts to solve problems therefore fail then companies today can rely on the brainpower of the crowd. The task is usually put to the public with an offer of prize money or other rewards, thereby increasing the chances that a solution will be found.

Patterned fabric returns to centre stage

Are you the type of person who wears stripes or do you prefer checks? Have you ever worn pepita or perhaps a more extravagant paisley? The liaison of fabrics and patterns is as old as history and has retained its fascination for designers even today. There is a sheer endless number of variations, and some of the classics might even be found in your own wardrobe, such as Burberry check, fishbone or houndstooth. Incidentally, the first tartans were encountered in Japan, long before the Scottish clans used them to declare their ancestry and patterns had very specific signification even in those times. The symbolism in clothing or expressed by spaces was naturally never purely coincidental and soon this became highly symbolic. It created a sense of belonging or exclusion, was preferred by royals or the lesser privileged – all depending on what they wanted to represent.
 

People change, and so do spaces

The role played by textiles in architecture was similar. Wallpaper, curtains, carpets and upholstery have all shaped their eras. Spaces developed visual and tangible personalities with the help of fabrics and patterns. However, for a long time patterns were mainly used in two areas and concentrated on either representative or private rooms.

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