T rendwatching can seem pretty daunting.  How can we see the big picture when we’re so focused on what’s right in front of us?  There’s so much to cope with between work, family, friends, community already. Then people ask us to think bigger.  Well, here’s why.

The nature of what we consider “work” and “workplaces” has always evolved with the times, but never before has there been so much innovation and unprecedented change so quickly. This means there’s a lot to keep up with.  It’s also easier to fall behind if you don’t make an real effort to keep your eyes open.

For example, this is the first time in history that four generations are working together.  That has made communication even more challenging, but also potentially fascinating.  With social media and all the latest communication apps, having a global focus has never been easier.  And because all sorts of economies and industries and companies continue to rise, fall, and change shape, the opportunities to learn valuable skills and fill gaps is tremendous.

That’s why we think it’s wonderful to see Microsoft bring experts together to address these very shifts in their latest Modern Workplace series.

Working Woman

I’ve spent the last two decades traveling the globe for YSN as we seek to identify major trends and best practices for people entering and transitioning with the workplace. We’ve studied the changing face of work culture extensively, engaging with hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of young people, with students, employees, entrepreneurs, and leaders, in countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia, Albania, and Peru. What we’ve found, without exception, is a vibrant surge of excitement about opportunities. This excitement comes from those who have adopted a paradigm that enables them to celebrate change and innovation. The more curiosity you have about what’s out there, what’s next, and what’s new, the more you’ll see the huge range of opportunities—and the more you’ll ignite this kind of enthusiasm in yourself.

I’ve spent the last two decades traveling the globe for YSN as we seek to identify major trends and best practices for people entering and transitioning with the workplace. We’ve studied the changing face of work culture extensively, engaging with hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of young people, with students, employees, entrepreneurs, and leaders, in countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia, Albania, and Peru. What we’ve found, without exception, is a vibrant surge of excitement about opportunities. This excitement comes from those who have adopted a paradigm that enables them to celebrate change and innovation. The more curiosity you have about what’s out there, what’s next, and what’s new, the more you’ll see the huge range of opportunities—and the more you’ll ignite this kind of enthusiasm in yourself.

Whether you’re working solo or on a team, from an office or a cell phone, as an experienced executive or as a digital nomad in the freelance economy, here are the trends we’re watching closest in today’s new world of work. You can capitalize on them in whatever it is you do.

1. Embrace an entrepreneurial spirit

Whether you want to own a business or not, consider how entrepreneurs view the world. They are interested and open, and they take it upon themselves to learn and implement whatever is needed. When you embrace this spirit and get excited about learning and creating, you’ll start to understand how business works. And, as someone with this mindset, you’ll know how to step up and take ownership of big-picture issues, no matter your job. This alone will exponentially increase your opportunities. Not only are companies and managers are always looking for leaders; with this mindset, you’ll be able to recognize and create new possibilities for yourself in a way others might not.

2. Build a vast and diverse network of contacts

By all means, go deep and build relationships within your company, field, or discipline, but also stretch yourself beyond. Think about tangential or related fields and tap into them to see what kinds of issues, innovations, and trends are getting buzz. You can learn so much and dramatically expand your own network of resources by casting a wider net for people with whom you communicate, know, or follow.

3. Incorporate social impact into your work

Everyone can make a difference. Every day is a new opportunity to do something that makes someone’s life better. Seek opportunities everywhere. Try to incorporate these opportunities into your work, if not embed them at the center. Opportunities for engagement in solving problems in the world have never been easier to tap into—

It has never been easier to connect with non-profits, communities, or activists anywhere. Find the ones you care about and make them part of what you do.

4. Learn to recognize opportunity of all kinds

If getting a job or starting your own business is all you think there is to choose from, let’s expand your horizons right now! There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to being employed—or to being an entrepreneur, for that matter. How you earn a living has never been more customizable. Learn to see what’s out there from the broadest possible context, and then craft your own strategy to earn a living, find sustainability, or even make a fortune. New models for work are emerging all the time, all over the globe, offering individuals far more flexibility for work. For those of you with a yearning for a something more creative, this is the best time ever to sculpt your own career path. Assess your own skills and interests, and see how those translate into possibilities.

5. Think Globally

However big or small your city may be, we are all just a speck on the planet. Don’t let yourself get isolated when there’s a big exciting world out there. There are countless ways to engage globally when looking for work, including hiring freelancers and joining international teams. Inquire, collaborate, and exchange as often as you can. Being more globally savvy makes you more marketable and more interesting—and makes your life far more dynamic. Whether you travel the world or explore from your computer, expand your reach as well as your own possibilities.

Keep an eye on these trends and others related to what you do to ensure you always have access to opportunity. Of course, “access” also means having the right tools, resources, and skills to leverage. That’s why we’ve partnered with Microsoft to help get the word out about their next Modern Workplace webinar on Wednesday, October 11. In this episode, Global Workforce: The New Culture of Work you’ll hear from Cam Marston of Generational Insights and Kelly Joscelyne, Chief Talent Officer at Mastercard. If you like what you see and hear, there are a handful of other great videos and talks on the site. Let us know what you think.