In the digital information age, will more and more organizations become virtual? Will people create jobs for themselves that allow them to work to live instead of the other way around?
With the Affordable Care Act coming to the U.S. workforce as early as this fall, will more organizations look for ways to streamline their personnel to make things affordable?
How different will the PR firm look from today? Can you have an organization of hundreds of people who don't have a central place to go every day?
Organizations are Shifting
When we went virtual in 2011, I thought it was going to be only for a year. I thought it was a good test (and gave me 12 months to gain a cash log), but that most would want that office to go to every day.
Boy, was I wrong! Not even *I* want that space to go to every day. I love working from home....and I'm finding not just my team is the same, but so are many of the talented people we hire part-time.
You're certainly beginning to see a shift in how organizations work. Bloomberg, P&G, and Crate and Barrel have knocked down their physical walls and created environments that are meant to function like airports or hotels.
More organizations are allowing some in-office and some from home work days during each week. And, of course, there was the big hub-bub when Yahoo! announced they were requiring everyone to be in the office at all times.
So we have both sides...and the Yahoo! example is most likely the majority (I have no science to back that up; it's based solely on how my friends run their organizations and on how many are run in Chicago).
A Shift in the PR Industry
But I'm seeing a shift right now in our industry. I don't think it'll happen quickly. In fact, I don't think you'll see a lot of it until Millennials are running companies. But I do see a shift.
Take us, for instance. We have two open positions right now and the reason we haven't posted job descriptions yet or started interviewing is because the people we need are pretty much impossible to find.
We need people who are a hybrid PR professional: They need to be experts in media and blogger relations, content development, content marketing, workflow development and email marketing, on-page search engine optimization, issues management, and client service. If they can also do some simple WordPress coding, they'll move to the front of the line.
You see our dilemma? Those people don't exist.
While we think about how to fill those positions, we've hired five freelancers to help us in the interim. Each one has a specific skill set in one of those areas (or maybe two, but not more than that) and they're guaranteed 10 hours a week of work.
It may be impossible to find one person who will work 50 hours a week and be able to do all of that work...and still be happy and motivated and not burned out and playing to their strengths.
The PR Firm of the Future
So we're thinking more and more about the future and what a professional services firm may look like.
It isn't necessary for us to have an office. It isn't necessary we even be in the same city as our clients. It's getting less and less necessary - with Google Hangouts and other technology - to get on a plane to see our clients.
So why not think about how to run an organization full of people who work the hours they want to work and do the things they want to do?
If you're focused on results, the PR firm of the future very well could be completely virtual and full of specialists who come and go as they please.
Sounds pretty enticing, doesn't it?