Linda’s new book, an examination of the future of work and the way it will change our larger future, will be published by Relentless Press in 2018:
Work Is Not a Place is a look at how the economy will change and how everything else will as well when we move decisively away from the majority of people having stable, long term jobs at a place of work to a world where work is transient and frequently done away from a central location. The next decade will be one where trends that have been taking shape for decades finally come together and in the process change the role of work and the function of every organization and institution in our economy.
After centuries of technology creating wealth and opportunities for the majority of the workforce, we have now crossed some kind of invisible boundary where the reverse is true. We are in the midst of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, a time when technology is shifting our frontiers, changing the way we produce things and redefining the role of human beings in the economy. Wealth will still be accrued, but the role of work will be very, very different.
This new world may take the form of highly-skilled individuals moving from one lucrative contract to another, or to those with marginal skills cycling between poorly-paying, short term and part time jobs. It may mean those who do keep ‘good’ jobs with large organizations working thousands of miles away from their coworkers because their employers finally figure out that teleworking makes more economic sense than worrying about people slacking off at home. It will certainly be a place where people are expected to reinvent themselves constantly, learning to be nimble as the economy changes around them.
As the world changes, everything else must as well. Companies will have to come up with a new way to manage a ‘just in time’ workforce that they pull in to meet their needs rather than have on staff at all times. Talent wars will be fierce, but they will be for the few, creating divisions even amongst the most highly skilled employees. Financial institutions will need to rethink how they lend money and borrowers how they borrow. And governments will need to rethink many things, from how to ensure all have a decent minimum standard of living, through to how to deal with an increasingly stratified population.
When work is not a place, some things may well be better. The environment may benefit from fewer commuters all headed to 9 to 5 jobs in a city’s core. Communities may re-group, with vibrant small towns housing those who are able to make a living from anywhere. And families may change prioritise when careers are re-thought and Millennial and Generation Z workers in particular craft their own realities. Some things, however, will be worse – unless we take steps now to ensure that they are not.