The Future of Work

Abstract

The world of work is changing as we speak and the winners and losers in the workplace of the present are those who can adapt and thrive in this paradigm without being lost in the maze of complexity and chaotic work arraignments.

Unlike the baby boomers and those before them, the Millennial generation cannot hope to retire in the same job that they joined and unlike the Gen Xers, they cannot even hope to have time to “come up the curve” which is a rare luxury in the contemporary work place.

With the increasing instance of part time work, flexi timework, temps, and freelancers replacing the traditional employer employee arrangement, the stakes have been raised for those stepping into their jobs and therefore, they need to ensure that they are always alert and agile to spot the quick sand nature of opportunities.

Moreover, with the internet making it possible to hire anyone from anywhere and everyone and everywhere, the result is a brutal competition for jobs that is likely to make the working professionals coming of age today jittery and nervous about their futures.

Though this sounds alarmist, this report is anything but that and instead, points how individuals can adapt and orient themselves to the changing world of work. The workplace of the future would mirror the broader changes in society and economics with instant gratification jobs, shorter period assignments, and a general trend towards fragmentation of the nature of work.

Finally, this report advocates professionals to invest in themselves and to ensure that they are not left out in the hard and cold realities that govern the global economy. Therefore, this report must be read as a wakeup call for those who are expecting the moon from their jobs as well as those aspiring to join the global labor pool.

Introduction: The Future of Work

Welcome to the 21st century world of work where nothing is permanent and where adaptability, flexibility, short term thinking, and ferocious competition are the order of the day. Coupled with the rise of the internet as a medium of commercial exchange and the other trend of globalization and the gloomy economic downturn, the future of work is anything but stable and secure, as readers would discover in this report.

Further, with robots and automation replacing routine jobs and reducing many workers redundant and jobless, the only way for professionals to adjust to the new paradigm is through investing in them and reinventing them at each step.

Apart from this, the increasing incidence of work from home moms choosing to work for themselves instead of being in a fast-paced corporate career where the demands of family and job are often at conflict, it is definite that the future belongs to those who can manage these demands in an astute and capable manner.

Moreover, with the globalization of the world economy and the increase in the supply of workers from countries like China and India, employers are choosing to replace their permanent workforces with temps and part timers from these countries who thanks to the internet and the death of distance along with the time zone advantage coupled with the cost advantage have meant that companies in the west are choosing to source work from where it is cheaper and sell it where it is profitable.

The Rise of the Internet Entrepreneur

Perhaps the biggest trend in recent years has been the rise of the internet entrepreneur. This category of self employed professional uses the internet primarily for income generating activities. Given the gloomy economic conditions and the lack of jobs both well paid and subsistence levels, more and more people are turning to the internet as a source of employment.

The rise of the internet entrepreneur also means that the future of work would be mostly driven by work from home individuals who work for themselves rather than in contractual agreements that are permanent in nature. Though the internet entrepreneur also enters into contracts with his or her clients, they are short term in nature as well as being geared for a certain task or a certain deliverable.

Indeed, the rise of the internet entrepreneur has the best example in the form of this website that you as the reader and patron are using as this website reaching out to millions of professionals all over the world could not have been possible without the internet with its reach and depth. Further, the fact that the global economy is moving from consolidation to fragmentation means that the future belongs to those who can exploit the opportunities available on the internet for part time and flexi-time work.

The other aspect of the internet entrepreneur is that he or she operates in a completely virtual environment where unless there is need for physical presence to meet the clients or to negotiate contracts, mostly these individuals would prefer to network and meet in the virtual domain through Skype, Telephone, and Teleconferencing.

This virtualization of work also means that the internet entrepreneurs seize the opportunities anywhere in the world everywhere in the scope and anytime and every time in the global economy. This means that like the first wave of outsourcing where global corporations found it convenient to source their products and services from where it is cheaper and sell where it is profitable, the internet entrepreneur would likewise fill this need for clients from all over the world.

Flexi Jobs and New Forms of Work

The other aspects of the future of work in the 21st century are that new forms of jobs that are not permanent or even contracted for a few years would become the norm. This is the phenomenon of flexi jobs, part time jobs, temporary positions, and work from home arrangements. We shall explore each of these trends in detail below. It would suffice to state that the nature of work as our parents and grandparents knew it has undergone a transformation and there are lesser of the old style jobs which are now replaced with increasingly part time and flexi time work arrangements.

The reason why the profile of the jobs in the contemporary global economy has changed is that the demise of manufacturing and the rise of the services sector have meant that companies increasingly look for ways and means to optimize and rationalize their costs and hence, they turn to work arrangements that are flexible and fungible in nature.

Apart from this, the fact that the global economic downturn has made it impossible to increase the costs of acquiring, training, deploying, and maintaining employees means that companies are turning to the flexi time and part time work more than ever.

Finally, the rise of the collaborative economy along with the instantaneous nature of work means that companies have to acquire and let go of employees in shorter time cycles and therefore, to avoid the hassles of hiring and firing workers according to business cycles, they are ensuring that they hire part timers, temps, and flexi timers.

Conclusion: Employing Oneself Instead of Being Employed by Others

This report has examined the changing nature of work in contemporary times. The implications of the new world of work are that one is employed by oneself instead of being employed by others and though this does not mean that while full time jobs would disappear, the trend would increasingly be one of part time, flexi time, and internet jobs.

The implications for professionals is that they can no longer be secure in the knowledge that they would have permanent employment with healthcare and other benefits and instead, they must now take care of all these aspects themselves.

Further, to remain competitive, they need to reinvent themselves at each step and stay ahead of the competition. Though working for oneself seems glamorous and exciting, there are flipsides as well as work can dry up without notice because the clients have found someone else as well as the fact that they can be at the mercy of impersonal forces that care more about the bottom line than the need to retain the employees or give them latitude to flourish and recover from setbacks.

In conclusion, the new world of work is both exciting and perilous and like with many other economic trends that have shaped the global economy, ultimately it boils down to how individuals adapt themselves and reinvent themselves according to the needs and demands of the changing paradigm.


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Globalization