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.

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.

Liability factor at first sight

Materials which are selected for the environment in which we work and live in are usually considered as a mirror of the soul. Some leave us cold and seem unapproachable, they keep us at a distance and create clear borders. Others are inviting and exude warmth, they invite us to touch and bring a harmonic balance to a room. Wood is without doubt part of the second category and is more and more sought after as a material - both for our homes and offices.

Magic of the fibre.

What is it that makes wood so fascinating? Surely, it can't be just the diversity of nature with its different grains, habits and wood types, providing us with a seemingly endless range of design opportunities. It's also the thought of a natural environment and grown beauty, the idea of valuable resources and sustainability and the feeling of security and soundness. Wood combines all of these qualities: a regrowing miracle material which never stops to live and is unparalleled. No surprise then, that since the invention of the saw blade man has always wanted to surround himself with this natural element.

Cooperation 2.0: Co-Creating Tomorrow

"None of us is as smart as all of us", said the American entrepreneur and management teacher Kenneth Blanchard. Cooperation is the buzz word of the moment - we know more together and achieve more as a team. The best ideas do not come from working alone - complex tasks and interdisciplinary projects require team work. What is required for good team work? How are ideas transformed into innovation and launched to the market? And what is the contribution of rooms in this context? 

Social? What's that again?

An MIT study found that employees learn about 70% of everything they know about the job from their colleagues. It is easier to learn important skills and small tricks which are re-quired for the job whilst working with each other than when working by oneself behind a desk.

The importance of social cooperation working within a company works goes beyond the in-dividual. Team work is at its best when the exchange and communication between individu-al project participants runs "smoothly".

Yet, isn't it mainly the social aspect of work that has been left behind in our time of digitisa-tion? Information is passed on by email, entire projects are coordinated online and you learn about your colleagues' birthday on the Intranet.

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.

Give me a break!

In music, a break is the moment between two sounds. It gains its importance from what came before and after. In rhetoric it can increase the tension; it can be a full stop, a dash, or a question mark. Pupils in school feverishly await the break, and it’s often the same in the office. What else can a break do?

Taceo, Tacis, Tacet

A musician appears on stage, bows, and sits down at the piano. He opens the music. And then ... he does nothing. In John Cage’s work 4’ 33”, the only instruc-tions to the musicians are not to play a single note for three movements. Although no music is heard, it is not quiet in the concert hall – you hear people in the audi-ence clearing their throats as they become uneasy. Chairs move, the air condi-tioning hums, muffled sounds from the street come into the hall. 4’ 33” is Cage’s invitation to listen into the silence, to recognise that it does not exist at all: silence is full of random sounds that we cannot turn off.

Work in Progress: The Intern

It seems in general that the traditional three career stages of education, work and retirement have been expanded since the turn of the millennium with a separate stage of ‘internship’. The phenomenon of the internship has since changed from a planned transitional aid and an interim stage to a genuine (career) stage. This stage can also last for significantly longer periods of time than some interns may prefer. The result: traditional milestones in life planning such as your own home, starting a family and having children are postponed more and more on account of the lack of financial security. Sometimes all that remains is the chronic frustration of moving from one temporary solution to the next without finding your permanent place. 

This basic scenario has now made its way into everyday vocabulary as a familiar phrase with the so-called “internship generation”, suggesting that the phenomenon does not involve special individual cases but is becoming a real trend in the labour market. It is a trend that is arousing loud voices in the media who are calling for statutory regulation.

Basically a good idea

It is of course hard to find anything wrong with the idea of an internship. This practice, which goes back to the 17th century, is basically aimed at enabling individuals to gain in-depth knowledge and skills at an early stage. As such the internship is ideally a temporary link or a supplement to education, with the focus on gaining practical work experience. In this regard the internship acts as a useful aid for getting started and finding your way in the (often confusing) expanse of the working environment.

Bene Heat Management

At the office, while the sun is shining? In a meeting, when you could have ice cream instead? For many of us, working during the summer months is more of an unfortunate duty than it is fun. But don’t be afraid, we have the solution: The Bene Heat Management helps you through this difficult time with a perfect recipe for every temperature. Enjoy!

Are you special?

Just a general question: are you special? Is what you do special? You will probably be inclined to answer this question with a resounding Yes! Of course, because specialisation is all the rage. Any self-respecting person specialises in something – whether professionally, academically or in any other area.

At the start of our new Bene Office.Info series “Work in Progress”, which will be all about special job profiles, we will take a long and careful look at this...

The specialisation of specialisation

Specialisation is an engine of civilisation which drives progress, and drives knowledge. Specialisation is one key, if not THE key, for managing both the floods of information which descend upon us daily along with the requirements of everyday life. Particularly in the 21st century, specialisation seems to be the absolute guarantee for success. Specialisation is … but let’s slow down a bit! We should take a closer look at this. After all, there is one thing we certainly don’t want to do as we look at what is special and at specialisation: to generalise! 

The special thing about specialisation

When we talk about specialisation, we usually mean focusing on a particular specialist area, a topic or an activity. By definition therefore, specialisation represents a conscious restriction, where someone moves away from the higher-level context and dedicates their attention exclusively to a particular part of an item. In this sense the act of specialising is a conscious setting of limits, corresponding with movement from the general to the specialised.

Employer Branding. Wanted: The best of the best

A company that gets poor reviews on, or 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.