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How to stay ahead of workplace trends

Tablets, cloud storage, flexible working hours, telecommuting, web-based documents, enterprise social networking are the new office tools

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Is your office strict about employees working 9 to 5? Still use a desktop computer and rely on your Rolodex? Those-and more-are office trends that professionals believe will disappear within five years, according to a new LinkedIn report.

LinkedIn surveyed more than 7,000 professionals worldwide to find out which tools and trends in the workplace are becoming obsolete-and which will be common in the workplace five years from now.

Topping the list of items and trends moving toward obsolescence are tape recorders (79 percent), fax machines (71 percent), the Rolodex (58 percent), standard working hours (57 percent) and desk phones (35 percent).

Other trends and items rounding out the list include the following: formal business attire (27 percent); office logistics, such as the corner office for managers and executives (21 percent), cubicles (19 percent), offices with doors (16 percent) and open workspaces (7 percent).

Respondents also predict that common items such as USB thumb drives (17 percent), business cards (15 percent), copiers (13 percent), resumes (11 percent) and printers (6 percent) are also heading toward extinction.

What tools, trends and technology will replace them? Tablets, cloud storage, flexible working hours, telecommuting, web-based documents, enterprise social networking, casual dress and open workspaces top the list of trends responders think will be common in the workplace five years from now.

LinkedIn Connection Director Nicole Williams says that to avoid the fate of many of these disappearing items, professionals should focus on these three things:

1. Be the expert

Williams says that every professional should assume he or she is dispensable: "While this reality can be very scary, it can also be really motivating when you start to wrap your head around the strategies and technology available to help you make it to the top of your professional food chain."

To do this, Williams recommends branding yourself as an expert, which involves two steps: Start by accumulating meaningful information from resources and experiences-the more you know, the better. Then, share your knowledge and experiences with others.

"Whether it be in a meeting, around the water cooler or via a LinkedIn Group discussion, the more informed you are, the more likely you are to be bestowed with legitimate expert ranking from both your peers and a Google search," she says.

2. Be visible

Barricading yourself in your office from 9 to 5 every day won't do you any good, Williams says. Instead, be sure to make yourself visible and available-both in person and online.

"Presence has always been a good thing in terms of survival in the workplace, but as the economy has become increasingly competitive and technology more prevalent, not only is it critical to not hide in the face of survival, you need to be very, very easily found," she says.

This presence includes making sure you have a bio on your company website and a LinkedIn profile with a built-out network of connections, she says.

3. Rely on your network

Williams says that one of the reasons the Rolodex is disappearing from offices is because "a network is infinitely more than a plastic contraption jammed with business cards" - it's more about the relationships you form and your influence, not popularity.

Your network should be full of people you know, who can vouch for you as a reference when you're job searching, invest in your development as a professional, sing your praises and fight for you when you need it, she says.


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