How the Workplace of Tomorrow Would Look Like

Some Recent Trends Based on News

Lately, the news emanating from the United States and India as well as from China is about how President Trump is raising the banner of protectionism and the slogan of America First and Make America Great Again is leading to lesser reliance on outsourcing and instead, focusing on the American workers being given preference over foreigners.

In addition, Corporates around the world including manufacturing companies are grappling with automation and the rise of the robots that are beginning to disrupt the existing work structures and leading to the loss of many jobs.

Taken along with the retreat of globalization in the years following the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, all these trends portend large-scale shifts in the way careers, jobs, workplaces, and organizations would look like in the coming years.

Apart from this, there has been a worldwide move towards hiring more women and minorities due to the realization that diversity and inclusivity or a more diverse workforce would help in furthering the cause of organizations.

Thus, it is clear that the workplace of tomorrow would be radically different from what we have been accustomed to so far and indeed, it would look alien and foreign to anyone who was born before the advent of the technological revolution.

The Emergence of the Gig Economy and the Demise of Full Time Work

For instance, further to the trends impacting the workplace that have been discussed so far, there is also the prospect of more and more corporates resorting to hiring temporary workers or Temps or employees on a part-time basis instead of longer term and notionally permanent contracts.

Apart from this, with the rise of the Gig economy as exemplified by companies such as Uber and AirBnB, the very nature of work and employment as well as the employer-employee relationship is bound to be disrupted and changed in ways that can only be anticipated to some extent.

What Future for the Workers of Tomorrow

So, where does this leave all the workers and employees of tomorrow such as the Millennials (those born between 1995 and 2012) and the Gen Z (those born between 1980 and 1995) and to some extent even the Gen Xers (those born in the late 1960s and the 1970s)?

To start with, the notion of an organization that one joins for lifelong employment is clearly out of the door. Indeed, much as we would be loathed to admit it, a career is no longer taken to mean a stable job with health insurance, social security, pension, and other perks and instead, now a career is something that entails a combination of flexible jobs, part-time contracts, and no health insurance and social security benefits.

If you have grown up with the thinking that your parents had secure and stable jobs as happened in the case of the Baby Boomers (those born in the decade following the Second World War) and that you too can think of such notions, then you would be in for a surprise as the workplaces of tomorrow would not only provide you with the sense of security of a stable job but would also thrust on you the burden of being on your own without any fixed contracts or assurances of longer term employment.

What with the rise of automation and the emergence of the robotics revolution, in a few years or even a decade, most of the jobs would be done by robots leading to extreme disruptions in the very nature of work and even part-time employment.

So, even if you are a freelancer who is thinking that you can somehow scrape by with the existing informal and flexible jobs, you might be in for a surprise as even whatever of the jobs is still left would soon be automated and robotized leading to another wave of disruption.

What Can be Done at Different Levels

While all this might sound alarming, anyone paying attention to the news emanating from the Indian IT Industry and indeed, even the worldwide corporate happenings would understand that what we are saying here is close to reality and the future workplaces would indeed be different from what we have known so far.

While you can prepare for this disruption by being innovative and inventive as well as by continually upgrading your skills and abilities, there are some things that you as citizens of tomorrow can demand from the governmental and corporate as well as the societal stakeholders.

To start with, the concept of a Universal Basic Income or a guaranteed payout for all citizens irrespective of any conditions would go a long way in assuaging and soothing the concerns of the workers of tomorrow who might be beset with anxiety and gloom about the future.

Basic Income as a concept is already being debated in the West and even in India where rising concerns over large scale job losses due to automation and disruption have prompted the advisers to the government to come out with concept notes and white papers.

Second, there needs to be more equitable distribution of wealth wherein as future workers, you must come together and demand that corporates and employers take the lead in narrowing the wage gap between those at the top of the income pyramid and those who are in entry level and middle level positions.

Indeed, without sounding radical or anti-capitalist, it must be noted that the solution to the coming disruption is for capitalism to “shift gears” and be more equitable and egalitarian.

Conclusion

To conclude, while tomorrow’s workplaces might be frightening for many, there are some things that can be done at an individual level and at the level of community and government to ensure a prosperous future for all and not just a few.


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