In late 2009, when the unemployment rate reached 10 per cent for the first time since the early '80s, everyone hoped that 2010 would be a comeback year. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. After early signs of progress, economic growth sputtered this year and the unemployment rate sits at 9.8 per cent as we approach Christmas.
But while 2010 may not have been the turnaround year for which most had hoped, the workplace still evolved in new and exciting ways, according to a recent report by Elance, an online job marketplace for freelance and freelance agencies. Technology and marketing skills and the medium by which they are delivered became even more centered on the Web.
Throughout the year, mobile applications gained on desktop apps as companies focused more on facilitating smartphones and tablet PCs. At the same time, traditional marketing techniques were edged out by Web-based marketing via search engines and social media.
But arguably the most important trend, noted Elance, is the sheer amount of online jobs that are not based at a physical location. While onsite employment remained stagnant in 2010, Elance had its 1 millionth post since 2006 for jobs that are based online. With a current average of 400,000 online jobs posted annually, this trend shows no sign of slowing down, according to Elance CEO Fabrio Rosati.
Slideshow: 10 Types of Coworkers No One Would Miss
One thing is clear: It's a digital world, and the smart companies will hire more flexibly and get more work done online in 2011.
Here are seven technology-centered work trends for the coming year that every company and employee needs to know about.
Digital Portfolios Replacing Resumes
It's time to leave that resume on the printer, and build a digital portfolio.
A digital portfolio, be it a LinkedIn profile page or a personal blog or a professional service like Elance that provides tools to build an online work profile, will give employers more insight into a potential hire through online work samples, references and verification of skills than any traditional resume ever could.
"The traditional resume will be extinct in a few years," says Elance CEO Rosati. "They are static and they get out of date very quickly. They're not even meaningful because you can't truly judge a person from words on a paper."
Expect employers to look to digital portfolios and social media footprints even more in 2011 when hiring short- and long-term employees, according to Elance.
Mobile Is the New Desktop
Throughout 2010, it became clear that consumers and businesses want applications that work well on mobile devices. And that will mean more jobs for mobile developers. Elance saw a 98 per cent increase in demand for mobile developers in 2010, a strong indication that businesses are deploying touch-screen tablets and mobile devices.
This move to mobile will also affect how Web sites are designed. In 2011, businesses, startups and entrepreneurs developing Web sites should do so with cleaner, more straightforward designs that put mobile first, and the desktop second, says Elance.
Online Work: Hiring in the Cloud
With each year, communication technology keeps improving, making it easier and more efficient for employees to work remotely. In 2011, according to Elance, tools like shared digital workrooms, real-time collaboration, telepresence and online employment platforms to hire employees will make working online not only easier, but also necessary to do business.
The HTML5/Flash War: Programmers Needed
The increasingly popular Web content standard HTML5 may someday topple rival Flash as the leading platform for rich media Web content. But that day has not yet arrived, according to companies posting Flash jobs on Elance.
While demand for HTML5 is indeed growing, Flash is still the leader in rich media content due to the popularity of casual gaming on the Web and the loosening of Apple's App Store restrictions.
But no matter who wins, this is an ongoing war for now, one which offers job opportunities for programmers skilled in both worlds, according to Elance.
Businesses Will Get Even More Social
Google's attempt to purchase deal-of-the-day Web site Groupon for $6 billion may have been a bust, but it's a sign that big business is eager to invest in social media.
This manifests itself in a few ways, according to Elance CEO Fabio Rosati: Companies will invest in more social networking tools; companies will look more to digital profiles and social media footprints when assessing potential employees; and companies will be more social networking-minded when selling and marketing their products, utilizing the digital word-of-mouth aspect of Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.
No matter how you cut it, employees must understand the value of social media, says Rosati, adding that demand for job candidates with social media skills grew significantly throughout 2010.
The Death of Traditional Marketing
In 2011, according to Elance job listings, businesses will continue to shift investments away from strategies like direct mail and telemarketing, and focus on Web-based promotion and customer acquisition techniques like search engine marketing, search engine optimization and social media marketing.
The Groupon model, where customers are given deals and incentives if they promote the discount they are getting to their friends and colleagues, is a business model many companies would like to emulate, says Rosati.
"A big trend with businesses will be to not just market their products to me, but to use social media to market to me and at the same time tap into my network of friends," says Rosati.
Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.