:::: MENU ::::

The Future of Work

Authors: Emil Hedemalm, Manish Lamichhane

Points to consider:


1. The Futures

1.1. Blue future: Large multinational corporations.

Entirely possible, at least in the near future. Already big corporations are grabbing a bunch of power, and with treaties like the TTIP and TTP their power further extends so that they can sue entire states that rule against them.


The differentiation of corporate careers ‘haves’ from ‘have-nots’ is pretty much already being clear, at least in Sweden. Long-term jobs are being cut down in various companies and managing to find and get accepted to a ‘permanent’ job position is so unlikely that comedians are already making fun of it .


The blue future is also the only future which seems to closely correspond to the current capitalistic consumerist society. Although the society is changing slowly, this feels like the current world we are in right now, at least from my experience (Emil) in Sweden, Germany & France.


Related to the flexibility and dedication requirement is the daily working hours, overtime, etc. With automation we should be reducing working hours, as 6 or fewer seem to yield higher output and much healthier workers , and just reducing wasted time due to lack of concentration when at work/sitting for too long periods of time.


Even though there are some pushes towards this, many big companies are still advocating or assuming that employees want to work 8 hours. E.g. in Germany while at Bosch the country says it has 7.5 hours working day (in general), but they (HR, bosses) were assuming 8 hour / day when making all contracts still. As an anecdotal note, I usually ask and try work only 6 hours a day, which is usually more than enough when I get focused, but this was hard to sustain in the long run when everybody else stayed longer and expected more out of you (social pressure).


Due to economical concerns based on inefficiencies in the system (wealth concentrating in the already wealthy and banking sector), many politicians and people are even arguing for more working hours, extension/heightening of pension age from 65 to 67 (if not already done), etc. This is also in line with the blue future’s company culture.


The blue future mentions sensors and monitoring employees to ensure they stay healthy. This obviously has privacy concerns, but it could also be seen as a helper and motivator to find problems early, and help people live more healthily (more sports, better food, more social meetings, et al), depending on their needs. Assuming this is made well, it could be an extension of social security nets, which potentially could increase joy in people’s lives, especially if it helps tackle stress from work.


Consider for example monitors that suggest you to take a break during work to do some sports or go for a walk to calm your mind. This is already done to some extent socially at some workplaces in Sweden, but not at all the extent it might be needed for all 9-to-5-ers.

1.2. Orange future: Small & Agile start-ups

While the blue future is a large part of today’s society, the orange future has been creeping up on us the past few years, at least in the IT-related and cultural fields. Indie games and small tech companies have more or less exploded in popularity, and new social funding sites such as Kickstarter are helping in the process. Another important site to mention is Patreon, where people can support their favorite creators (youtube, art, music, etc.) through monthly voluntary subscription fees.


This is one of my favorite futures, as I highly value time and freedom to work. It probably also aligns well with all remote-working, weird hours, flexible time, etc. Specially being able to choose exactly what you want to work with too. Being in a large company may be secure, but also less flexible.

With the emergence of ever-increasing internet awareness and connectivity perhaps new social networks or integration will arise which helps supplying and connecting people to the jobs they seek, even if they are short-term, temporary or otherwise not bound for long-term commitment. Freelancing, contracting and working as a consult or in a consulting company has also been on the rise and is in line with this mentality.


The document/presentation mentions the emergence of guilds by trade. I believe this has already started to some extent, if you look at all professional communities, and problem-solving places such as StackOverflow when it comes to (initially) programming, but has now expanded into a wide array of fields and topics (now under the upper Stack Exchange name). For digital art there is the huge community of DeviantArt, and of course for video publishing we have YouTube, which by advertising supports a bunch of artists and creators.


1.3. Green future: Sustainable companies and communities

“If all 7+ billion of us were to enjoy a European standard of living – which is about half the consumption of the average American – the Earth could sustainably support only about 2 billion people.”  


The rate at which the resources are being consumed by the practise of capitalistic consumerist society, we are soon going to hit the bed rock. If we follow this in a very chronological manner, a very bluish world is on the rise. The assumptions of this economic model that we are currently in (the monetary economy), assumes that the entire earth belongs solely to human beings and thus the resources can be bought and sold and converted into monetary terms, which slowly is being proved wrong. The unsustainable ways of the dominant capitalist consumerist society will be the main reason for the downfall of the blue world and people are highly likely to become more concerned with the  sustainable and greener ways to social interaction. Business is always driven by the basic demand and supply laws. Hence the preference and the social trend and the need for survival will automatically force / mould the falling blueish world into a Green world where society and economy both are highly likely to be adapted to the sustainable and greener ways. Further advancement in this world would make way for a technologically rich society and setting the stage for the Orange world where networks of task-based small companies are bound together by technology.


Supporting points for Green World:


  1. Reduction in carbon emission:

Green world relies more on the renewable energy sources and also ways to reduce the usage of energy. The report points out approaches like preference of technological communications rather than face to face meeting which needs transportation. Taxation on carbon emission could also be an awareness factor and so people will tend to spend less money by reducing the amount of carbon they produce. The threats of climate change and rising sea levels, climate refugee and the increment in mortality rate due to the effects of climate change would reduce.    


  1. Business with a purpose:

2012 Edelman goodpurpose® Study  shows that 72% of people recommended a brand with a good cause over the one without it, which is a 39% rise compared to the 2008 data. This has created a pressure (if organization have rigid business processes and are less adaptive) as well as defined new areas where business can shift to.


  1.   Evolving career paths:

Corporate culture defines strict career paths that are hierarchical and based on previous experience, . An employees would excel in one dimension to meet the needs of the corporation /company. Technological advancement are demanding dynamism and multi-dimensional proficiencies in every profession. Computer knowledge has become a basic which previously used to be optional. These changes are breaking the establishment of the traditional corporate culture, creating a more dynamic work environment.


  1. Open-ness of information:

A lot of researches are being done in the first world countries on the sustainability and green ways of life. But still the ripples are far-reaching. One of the major reason for it is the lack of free access to the researches. Tax-payers and government fund researches but the final output is again not freely available for access. The researchers and the big Journals put price tags on the researches making the common mass repulsive towards acquiring the information. But, some movements have started against this tradition, protesting in support of free sharing of information 10. And this movement is already gaining some momentum. Torrents and open-source movements have been advocating this since a couple of years now. Once the idea of sustainability and the threats of capitalism and consumerism based society starts reaching masses, the march towards the Green world would not be far.


  1. Focus on social aspect of employee:

For the  companies to have innovation and products based on social needs, it becomes a must to work in close collaboration with community and society. And to achieve that, the focus on socialization of workplace is needed. The idea of flexible work hours is already gaining popularity. Plus technology has removed the compulsion for employees not to be physically present in the workplace (at least highly practised in the IT sector ).


2. Our future

Why. When. How.  What we want and what we think more personally.


Emil: I think for the nearest future we will see a first change into the blue future, with a smaller degree of orange future. Then, after some new radical events (riots, protests, economical collapse), a new future of orange and green should be created, where the green will have the bigger role in the long run.




For the first part, I would also support the idea that the world is marching rapidly towards a Blue future, thanks to the increase in consumerism. But at the saturation point of the Blue world, we will be at the verge of our existence(a bit too extreme idea probably 😀 ) and focusing more on survival and trying to get back to where we were (in terms of resources and balance in ecosystem) . “Going Green” could be the best solution at that point. Referring to my writing in the first paragraph supporting Green world, after the society adapts to sustainable ways, a progressive technological advancement would pave the path for the Orange world which I think is the highest point of stability (looks so at least from the point where we are standing now).


Other References

  • PWC, The future of work – A journey to 2022, Very reference

So, what do you think ?