What is the Future of Work?
The way we work is bound to change sooner or later, and there are already certain aspects of the present-age work environment that are shifting towards this new era.
Thanks to the progress of machine learning and the onset of artificial intelligence, automation is leading the charge into this new dawn.
Tasks that required human intervention are now easily- and perhaps more efficiently- taken care of by autonomous systems.
While there are concerns about this change, there are upsides to this shift.
Modern workplace managers will find it easier to keep tabs on employees, while workers themselves will get a helping hand from robots to take care of cumbersome chores.
In more dangerous environments, automation may even alleviate the need to put human lives at risk.
Instead of a firefighter, for example, racing into a burning building to get people out, a robot unaffected by fear and a clouded judgment could take his place.
That said, here’s more on how the future of work is bound to look like in a couple of years:
1) Employees will be able to work from their homes
The conventional work structure dictates a 9-5 approach that involves people leaving their homes for a designated place of work. However, with the internet now at everyone’s fingertips, coupled with sophisticated mobile technology, and very adept programs, workers won’t need to turn up for their jobs physically.
They’ll be able to work remotely from their homes, and that is already the case for a sizeable percentage of Americans. The number of people who work from home has increased steadily over the years with a recent US census indicating that more than 8 million people currently work remotely. That figure has doubled compared to statistics released in the year 2000, which brought to light that 3.3% of the population worked from their homes then. Those numbers are expected to explode, with the future of work lying away from offices and in telecommuting.
2) Work objectives and priorities will change as well
The above also means that the nature of work will also change. For several jobs, it is the case that work hours are a metric to judge a worker’s success (or payment). However, it will soon be that the concept of a stipulated work schedule will go out the window. Instead, jobs will hinge on specific goals. Of course, there will still be deadlines, but time won’t be as important a factor as it is right now.
3) Increased fluidity for organizations and the inception of a “gig” economy
As things stand for most companies, there’s a clear hierarchy depicting the transition of power right from the foot soldiers at the bottom to the executives at the top of that work chain. Everyone’s role and authority in the company is mapped out, and various managers are given supervisory privileges over other employees. However, the future of work will tear up the organizational chart and instead adopt a project-esque kind of approach that groups workers into teams.
Soon, there’ll no longer be predetermined roles or positions, with duties changing in line with the requirements of different projects. One person may juggle various responsibilities in a single work setting, or many people will take up interchangeable roles for one task. This fluidity will also bring to light the concept of a “gig” economy. In other words, there will be an increase in freelancers, and work will mostly evolve toward contractual agreements rather than having permanent employees all through the year.
4) People will get paid in digital currencies, and they’ll not only work for the paycheck
The present successes of digital currencies may hint at a future where employees get paid in bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies as opposed to actual cash. A form of payment that was not too long ago on the fringes of financial systems, these currencies are now in the plans of world-renowned companies. Prominent names such as Nordstrom and Starbucks, for example, are already accepting Bitcoin payments. So it won’t be too long before workers get paid the same way. In fact, many companies such as Tokyo-based GMO internet and Danish firm SC5 are already offering their workers compensation in cryptocurrencies.
In terms of what people will work for, that will also change. Money has been the primary motivator so far, but with the growing sophistication of a digital world, employees we look to other perks as motivation as well. That will include the latest technologies, systems, and gadgets. A company’s mission in line with global concerns or trends of the day will also be a priority for job seekers.
5) We’ll need to learn on the job and machines will be co-workers
The only constant thing in life is change, and it is like a strong wind, shattering the resolves of those who do not conform to changing directions like a flag. To toe the lie of the future, we’ll have to build personal brands to increase our visibility to employers. It’ll also be necessary to continually do our homework to stay in the know of complex and digital systems. While learning right now encompasses a predetermined set of ideas and concepts, soon we’ll have to keep polishing up our skills to keep up with haphazard technology.
Aside from life-long learning, we should also be prepared to work alongside intelligent machines, both literally and figuratively speaking. We’ll have to be comfortable with an artificial presence strutting about the office like a person! That might sound like something out of a Terminator movie, but humanoids such as the ‘PETMAN’ (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin), which is helping to test military regalia, are already living proof of this.
The future is bright!
Do not be alarmed by the dreaded doomsday worry that machines will take over our jobs, rather be optimistic about what they could offer. A SmartSheet report revealed that workers lose about 25% of productive work hours in a week on repetitive chores. A machine can efficiently perform these, ensuring employees spend more time on more important matters.
The future is not set in stone, and no one knows for sure what lies ahead. However, employees and companies can look to it with optimism because more opportunities are certainly in the offing!
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