The “New Work” – Redefining Work for a New Generation

I remember from my days in grammar school the mantra that was incessantly beat into our brains in school.  Get an education so you can get a good job and work until retirement.  Even then, that seemed like a horrible existence.  Spending so much time and money to help others reach their dreams and then retire.  Not my cup of tea at all.


While not a big fan of western movies or tv shows at all, I also remember how in these shows and movies everyone was known in the town for something.  There was the general store owner, the baker, the blacksmith and so on.  It seemed that everyone was working for themselves and society thrived.  It was part of the culture to take on an apprentice to teach someone else how to do exactly what you were doing so they could one day work for themselves.

In recent decades, as indicated by my first story, this has changed drastically.  The tide changed from the goal of work for oneself to the goal of working for “the man”.  However, with the mass layoffs, the ease of technology, and the uncertainty of the government (at all levels), entrepreneurship is now back in fashion and work is being redefined daily.

The new work is reminiscent of the days in the old west, where one finds their individual talent and works with numerous clients to provide that service or product. Now we call these people freelancers or gigworkers.  In short, the new work is being defined based on projects instead of job title.  Individuals can move from project to project and generally company to company leading to more professional and personal growth.  It requires the ability to artfully articulate your value, deliver on promises and produce results like never before.  For these reasons, this “new work” will require individuals to gain new skills and competencies to manage it.

So how you can get prepared to work in this next era of business if you have not already taken the leap.  Here are 3 tips to help you prepare for the new work paradigm just over the horizon.

1.  Think of yourself as a brand

When others speak of you, what do you want them to say?  Are you doing things now in your professional life that portrays that perception?  If not, get to work building your brand and expertise in your chosen area.  This could mean that you begin writing on topics of interest, reading relevant titles, and speaking at small events to those in your community.  Even the smallest steps will start the brand building process.  Remember, people are talking about you when you aren’t in the room anyway, so do your best to control the conversation by working on your brand.

2.  Treat your current employer(s) as clients

When you refer to your current employment, refer to them as your biggest client.  While in, they may be your only client for the long or short term, that little fact is not so important.  When you start referring to them as a client, you should feel a higher sense of responsibility to get things right and do a good job.  In short, it should help you bring a higher level of professionalism to your job that will set you apart from your peers and help you get noticed.  It also provides “practice” in the area of managing additional clients should you choose to take some on in the future.

3. Document your accomplishments

Patting oneself on the back can be difficult, but it is key in getting noticed among competition.  In the time of “new work”, showcasing your portfolio is paramount.  You will have to be able to show that you have a history of taking on projects and completing them to be successful.  You can start with the projects you are working on now.  Document the project, the problem, the steps taken to resolve them and the result and keep it in a safe place.  Even if you never have to venture into the world of “new work” this is something that will help you move up from your current position as well.

Whether or not you believe it, a fundamental shift is happening in the way that work is defined and delivered.  You can start following the three steps above to ensure you are prepared to face this change head on!  For more information on how to manage technology in the world of “new work”, visit to participate in an information session and find out about workshops and webinars happening soon.

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