In 2015, we saw a profusion of discussion about ongoing fundamental changes taking place in the workplace. “The Future of Work” was discussed in articles from many major publications and leaders of prominent companies took a public stand in acknowledging these changes.

Going forward, it’s crucial that leaders be aware of trends as they continue to develop. Here are some of the most important that I think we will see continue to expand and gain more traction in 2016.

More remote work. The ways work gets accomplished are evolving. One of the biggest trends we have seen this year is the rise of remote workers across a wide range of industries. With new research emerging that shows contrary to most preconceptions, most workers are actually more productive when working from home. So while it gives employees the flexibility they are seeking, often it allows employers to save on resources as well.

More specialization. Tools enabled by the internet mean that in effect the world is getting smaller. It gives us access to more people in more places than we could have previously ever imagined. This means that while in the past we may have chosen to work with X person or company based on convenience, a whole new spectrum of talent and competition, price-wise, has popped up. This makes it easier for us to find the exact right solution for our needs.

Solopreneurs and freelancers continue to rise. Just as the traditional office environment is no longer enough to keep many full-time employees satisfied, the traditional 9-5 Monday-Friday job is no longer enough for many as well. Employees aren’t finding the security enjoyed by previous generations and are setting out on their own to take one-off jobs with various companies or start their own one-person business based around what they do best.

Work-life balance redefined. Many of these trends point to a larger trend of redefining the idea of work-life balance. While no one is really talking about reducing or increasing the number of hours that are worked, the idea is more about the way those hours are worked. Employers will continue to institute policies aimed at creating consistently happier employees. They will focus on treating employees like whole people instead of simply task-completers, with the knowledge that happy people do better work.

These are some of the biggest trends that I saw develop in 2015 and believe will continue to evolve and become more common in 2016. What do you think? Did I miss anything you see as being crucial in the year to come? Let me know in the comments below.

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