The Times They Are a-Changin’

The past two decades have been a tumultuous time, filled with disruptions and changes across many industries and sectors. These shifts have resulted in a modern workplace that is at once drastically different from any seen before yet, in other ways, still bearing many similarities to the organizations of the past.

The ultimate end result of these changes and whether currently prevailing trends are here to stay is yet to be seen. As part of Your Workplace’s 20th-anniversary issue, three members of the YW Editorial Board of thought leaders and seasoned experts of management and human resources chimed in with their thoughts on what they have observed over the years.

The Tech Effect

For Craig Dowden, president of Toronto-based consulting agency Craig Dowden & Associates, the most obvious shift has been the increased prevalence of technology. “Twenty years ago, there were no smartphones, cellphones were [sparse], we were much more limited from a technological stand-point, so we had to rely on face-to-face interactions,” he says. To illustrate this, Dowden points to the rise of technologically based sectors, like biotech, and the increased economic power of platforms like Facebook and Amazon, especially in comparison to the demise of traditional “brick-and-mortar” businesses.

The importance of technology in economic success has also been noted by executive human resources strategist Nancy Buck, who moved from the financial sector into technology. “At one point technology was almost seen as an expense, not as something that could actually make the company excel,” she says. “I think that whole view has significantly changed, and now even the large financial services organizations are tech-enabled.”

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