The workplace of today little resembles the cubicles of yesteryear. More people telecommute and enjoy flextime options. Rather than a traditional top-down structure, many companies embrace a more democratic arrangement.

Businesses that hope to attract top talent should embrace new workplace trends. Those who insist on clinging to tradition risk becoming obsolete as staff leave for more welcoming environments. Here are seven trends to adopt to keep your organization competitive.

Technology Takes Everything to the Cloud

Gone are the days when your dedicated work computer updating meant suffering an interruption in productivity. Cloud-based applications enable staff members to log into work from nearly any device, including their cellphones and tablets. Many apps integrate with existing software platforms businesses already use, such as Salesforce, making workflow management easier.

Cloud-based applications also streamline customer relationships. For example, improvements in accounting software allow clients to upload documents to secure servers. Many such software platforms automatically fill in tax forms based on documentation clients provide. This lets CPAs and EAs to focus on maximizing deductions and credits instead of laboring for hours over data entry.

Many teams today have staff members located across the nation, and even around the globe. Cloud-based applications allow for real-time collaboration regardless of where employees live. Live streaming technology enables people to meet face-to-face even when distance separates them.

Side Hustles Are Now the Norm

The traditional workday lasted from 9-5, but now, more employees are exploring their passions through side hustles. Many people put in extra hours before work, after work and on weekends. Whether they create art to sell on Etsy or perform bookkeeping on the side, such gigs empower individuals to take control of their financial futures.

Some people develop their side hustles into full-time professions. Others prefer the security of regular employment coupled with the ability to pursue what they truly love in their spare time. Regardless of their initial motivation, side hustles fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.

AI Changes Workplace Roles

Earlier this year, McDonald’s agreed to acquire Apprente, an artificial intelligence (AI) company. The corporation hopes to improve the customer drive-thru experience through this technology. Some critics express concerns that it will cost jobs. However, it’s more likely such tech will enable existing staff to improve the dining experience by focusing more on quality control.

The utilization of AI means many employees will see their roles evolve. This challenges staff members to continue developing their skills so they can compete in a changing environment. To remain viable, workers need to actively seek professional development opportunities.

Telecommuting Is Now the Norm

If you despise your morning commute, you’re in luck. Today’s workplace enables greater flextime and telecommuting opportunities than ever. Due to advances in technology, you no longer need to report to a cubicle — at least not every day.

Those who work in customer-facing roles can still benefit from flextime opportunities. Even sectors like the restaurant industry can develop workplace policies to improve overall employee wellness. They can encourage staff to take time off and enable them to trade shifts to improve their work-life balance.

Less Bureaucracy Is Vital

In the traditional workplace, staff members reported to an immediate supervisor who herself reported to a higher-level general manager. Today’s workplaces embrace a more democratic structure. Promotion opportunities, while available, no longer restrict staff to upward advancement only when a higher-level executive steps down. They don’t need to take another person’s job to excel. Instead, they can succeed based upon their talents and the attitudes they bring to their employer.

Embracing Diversity Is Key

Research indicates that diverse teams produce more and exercise better decision-making skills. People from different backgrounds bring new ways of looking at the world to their companies. Such groups embrace positive change and accept risks as part of doing business.

Diversity also benefits morale in the workplace. People do their best when they feel accepted and secure in expressing their true selves. Customers tend to respond more positively to advertisements that feature people of all shapes, sizes, skin colors and ability levels as well.

Office Layouts Boost Productivity

The cubicle is — at long last — going the way of the dodo. Open layouts encourage collaboration and teamwork. Many designers today blend the open-office style of design with quiet workspaces for deep work and concentration.

Employers today recognize that keeping staff members healthier makes them more productive and results in decreased absenteeism. Many organizations now provide fitness facilities on-site or partner with local gyms to provide opportunities for wellness. Others provide bicycles employees can use for running errands during the day or even for commuting to and from the office.

The Workplace of Today Continues Evolving

As the millennial workforce sees the entrance of Generation Z and beyond, the workplace will continue evolving. New technologies will further enable work-life balance, and efforts to improve diversity and wellness will continue boosting productivity. The result is a kinder, more positive work environment for all.

About the author

Kayla Matthews, a tech-obsessed innovation writer, has written featured pieces for InformationWeek, The Innovation Enterprise, The Muse and more. You can see more of Kayla’s work on her site, Productivity Bytes, or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.