By Brooke Preston, Manta Contributor
February 8, 2019

Are the days of the 9-5 office worker a thing of the past? See how remote working and other trends may affect your small business in 2019.

The new year is a time to look ahead, make plans and start fresh. 2019 is shaping up to be a time of positive disruption in the workforce, where longtime trickle of change manifest into major tectonic plate shifts in terms of how, where and even why work happens. Here are three key trends we forecast as likely to affect small business owners and contractors this year.

  1. The Rise of The Remote Worker

The 9-5 commute will continue to ebb, as even more traditional offices begin to recognize that cloud computing and personal technology gains mean many work functions can be done effectively anywhere, anytime. Flexible schedules are more than just a perk that allow workers the joy of WFS (working from sweatpants); remote work also helps employees save on transportation costs, childcare and more, which can lead to greater job satisfaction, retention and talent recruitment. Consider what remote or flexible scheduling options work well for your business.

  1. Side Hustles and Satisfaction

In 2019, the gig economy (the move from traditional business structures to consumer-focused, mobile optimized on-demand services) is now the economy. But what will it mean for your small business when over 1 in 3 employees report they have at least one side hustle?

The answer largely lies in company culture and employee satisfaction. On the plus side, employees with side hustles that allow them a creative outlet or additional paycheck may be happier overall, demanding less raises. However, businesses with a toxic company culture are likely to see retention rates tank, as many employees may no longer feel trapped in an unsatisfying or low paying job, when a bevy of stop-gap (or permanent) income alternatives like driving for Lyft or childcare through Care.com exist. To keep retention high, consider asking employees what culture or benefits shifts would make the biggest impact for them. For the self-employed, consider if a side-hustle may be a good complement to your own business earnings.

  1. Specialized Benefits

As a small business owner, you may not be large enough to offer employer-sponsored health insurance plans or 401ks. But in 2019, employees and contractors will increasingly look for roles with specialized, modern benefits offerings. Once novel benefits like in-office massage therapy appointment days, summer half-day Fridays, dog friendly offices, yoga or fitness classes, free in-office breakfast, paid time off to volunteer in the community and more are becoming increasingly popular ways to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market. Consider what benefits you can afford to provide that would return the most employee delight.