The future of work


There is a saying that goes something like: “It is not that our plans had failed but that we had failed to plan.” This applies to the future of work. We seem to be driven down by technology as if we were in the early days of the agricultural or industrial revolution.

There are countless  conferences,  reports,  scenarios - almost every organisation feels compelled to ask:  What is the future of work?  I suggest the report by PricewaterhousCoopers is a good place to start. It offers three different lenses to view how the future might look — the Orange world where small is beautiful, the Blue world where corporate is king and the Green world where  companies care. Click here for the report.

Using constantly improving technology will mean growth but this growth will not mean more jobs — millions will be rendered obsolete. Those that can offer professional services in the digital marketplaces will secure a greater volume of assignments, market themselves, use secure payment systems and vet potential clients. One example is Upwork which connects freelancers with assignments in areas such as software programming, graphic design, marketing and mobile development. It connects some 3.6 million client businesses with more than nine million freelancers from 180 countries. This is a preview of the Orange world where large companies breakdown to a network of smaller collaborative organisations.

In my view:  in the future there will be fewer jobs and many people will not have regular jobs.  Society will need to change so that the increase in productivity of technology benefits us all — as it did in agriculture and modern factories. Instead of the profits of increased productivity going to the <1% at the top, everyone should benefit in the form of an universal living wage. The attitude and value to work would need to change -- work being a privilege, an opportunity to serve the community — a vocation.

For example contrast the attitude to work in Norway and Saudi Arabia — both living from oil.

For the full interview of Tim O'Reilly by Michael Kransy