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Workplace Culture then and now: 7 ways that it has changed since 2011

Since 2011 the world has experienced a lot of changes, and the UK was no different. We’ve had three prime ministers, a Brexit Referendum and a national debate on naming an Ice research vessel, to name just three examples, but there have also been massive changes in the UK’s workplace culture.

In this article, we’ll be looking at seven ways the UK’s workplace culture has changed since 2011. While some of these changes result from technology development, others have come about because of shifting perspectives and expectations in the workforce. Even more, have come as the result of the introduction of a new generation to the workplace.

1) The development of the remote workforce

You knew this one was coming. In the past, remote working was reserved for special situations, including those with the technology to partake in it. Still, the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world new freedom where your location is not limited to just the office, but now to the extension of the home office.

The most significant culture change is that HR teams have learned that almost everyone wants to an extent, to not always be in the office and that the typical 9-5 office-based routine and culture is no longer expected. Instead, the new norm is a culture build on trust with a renewed focus on improving the home/work balance.

For many, this has showcased the ability to be a digital-first company, where assists such as booking a holiday, collaboration and content must be easy to access and use on the go, whether it’s in the office or at home.

2) The growth of Internet-based culture 

Technology is constantly growing by leaps and bounds. Still, the 2010s introduced the world to mobile developments in 4G and 5G while establishing and entrenching internet technologies like cloud-based software and hardware like smartphones and tablets. Neither smartphones nor social media were widely used in 2011 when the decade started, but now it’s hard to imagine our world without them.

In 2021 people of all ages have access to mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet computers, keeping us connected to one another at all times. So ask yourself, what daily workplace tasks could not be done via a mobile phone or tablet with an internet device?

Beyond those now-common advances, technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are also changing our workplaces and are set to continue doing so into the next decade.

Workplace tools have also had to change with the times to support this. Natural HR’s online cloud-based HR software is supporting this development by introducing functions and benefits to a now established internet-based culture, including tracking workplace equipment, and enabling the development of employee management via company-specific calendars.

3) An increase in the outsourcing of jobs

For many, this may be one of the most controversial changes in workplace culture. Still, the 2010s saw the development and growth of outsourcing workplace tasks to agencies and workers outside the company, and often from across the world, who will typically work for lower pay.

But this development has been assisted by our previous point, internet-based culture. Why? Because this development has made outsourcing a viable solution because of the wide range of options allowing you to stay connected with your remote workers.

4) Development of expectations from employees 

Over the past decade, employees have come to expect benefits that are as diverse as their skillset, it’s no longer just an afterthought, and for many, the benefits make or break the culture that their workplace presents. From discounts at restaurants to support for healthcare, student load payback support, flexible working, and social gatherings are the standard today.

Technological change and greater diversity are some of the factors that have fuelled employees’ needs for their employer to understand and experience their feelings. Through HR software, such as Natural HR and even its Payroll modules, you’re able to develop and maintain a work culture that is built on the desires of your employees through first-hand data.

At the same time, in 2021, as we discussed, you will be expected to establish and promote a continuous learning environment, meaning knowledge acquisition and training across the organisation must become a part of the day-to-day operations.

5) More rights for workers

Since 2011, there have been several new introductions that have impacted employment law within the UK, and as a result, this has trickled down into the workplace culture. Speaking to HR professionals within the Natural HR group, these as the nine that have particularly impacted workplace culture:

  • Default retirement age (DRA) was abolished in 2011.
  • Shareholder control over directors pay 2013.
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015.
  • Shared parental leave.
  • National living wage.
  • Gender pay gap reporting.
  • Employment status – Uber v Aslam.
  • Equal pay.

For those in HR, all of these employment law updates have impacted how you undertake your duties, from managing data to ensuring correct payroll and compliance with paid leave. It’s also highlighted the need for a comprehensive all-in-one HR and Payroll software solution to ensure that companies are compliant with these new laws.

6) There are now 4 Generations in the workplace: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, and Z

In 2021 there are four distinct groups of generation in the workplace, the most extensive and most diverse it has ever been. If, like us, you’re a bit behind on what the generations are, here’s a helpful reminder:

  • Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964
  • Gen X was born between 1965 and 1976
  • Gen Y was born between 1977 and 1995.
  • Gen Z was born between 1996 and 2021.

For workplace culture, this means that your different groups of workers will have different expectations of what to expect in the workplace. Baby Boomers would not have grown up with the internet and connected devices, whilst Gen Z, souring ONS, have grouped social events and the option of hybrid working as holding more value in workplace pensions a showcase of a workplaces culture.

7) The office toolkit has reinvented itself         

If you were working in 2011, think about what your office toolkit consisted of, it likely involved Windows 7, Vista or even XP. It would have been dominated by software like Office 2009, Adobe, and Outlook as your primary methods of communication and creation.

In 2021, the toolkit has reinvented itself on keywords like Cloud, IoT (Internet-of-Things) and video communication (Think Slack, Teams and Zoom). Your toolkit has developed a workplace culture that moves faster, allows instant communication, and for many, increases ease of access for vital workplace tools.

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About Natural HR

Natural HR is a cloud-based HR software company for growing businesses with 100+ employees. Since launching in 2010, we’ve been building a comprehensive suite of HR functionality that equips the small to medium-sized enterprise with everything needed to build an effective and efficient HR operation.