the future of... work
Think less security, more The Big Lebowski.
LLabour extraction: we’d certainly love to know that such a thing will be made obsolete in the future. We’d be playing on holodecks for leisure and wouldn’t want for materialism because our basic needs would be met. Fairness and equality would be the currency of status.
Okay, that utopian ideal looks really far away from our present balance sheet, as the haves have more and the have-nots get less (the global one percent just managed to have more wealth than the 99 percent combined. Snap, cake eaters!). Our near abroad for work looks longer and more uncertain with the only comfort that less is the new more. Let us explain.
For starters, we’ll be working longer, far past the traditional retirement age of 65. Australia has already amended a law that allows retirement to be postponed until 70, a reality that is in line with longer life expectancy. After all, retirement wasn’t supposed to be a 30–40 year plan, but a 15–20 one: medical advances have changed the dynamic as lower birth demographics have screwed down, translating into more of a burden on the earning generation. Working until 100? Not out of the question.
The second aspect of our work lives will be a far greater degree of labour flexibility: there will be fewer traditional jobs, as firms hire for skills on a project basis. Welcome to the world of Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA), which is one of the fastest growing segments in all global economies, but especially ones that are rigged in hiring and firing. A Manpower Malaysia report found that 41 percent of Asian companies had difficulty sourcing talent, and thus are turning to FWA or similar solutions. Out of the study group, Manpower found that 18 out of every 100 employers are implementing FWA, and more look to follow. The Singapore government has introduced a programme called Flexiworks!, which encourages and incentivises FWA. Putrajaya is also piloting similar schemes. “There will be more jobs that will require highly adaptable labour and labour trained for the Internet-based work style,” says Dr Lim Kim Hwa, a labour expert from the Penang Institute think tank. “The flip side of performance- and task-based work is that there will be less job security and loyalty to the institution,” he notes cautiously.
This will help introduce more women into the workplace—a challenge that Malaysia fares poorly in—and tap Millennial and Gen X and Y creativity. But it puts an enormous burden on management—in fact, some theorists predict an end to management structures and layers, as KPIS and performance-based rewards serve projects better than fingerwagging managers, creating entrepreneurial energy rather than institutional inertia.
Yes, there’s an app for that The future of FWA work is upon us, as apps find your talent and get you paid for it. Zaarly The bottom-up one, finds everything from cleaners to programmers. Taskrabbit The early entrant into the temp-worksourcing game stumbled, and has now revived as a more app-based experience. Makes sense. Wonolo Work. Now. Locally is the lengthened tagline, as this San Francisco startup is changing the game for crowdsourcing work.
Bats**t crazy future Marxist: we’ll get the machines to make themselves and do everything that we need. But then there’s that pesky AI problem Stephen Hawking warned us all about. *cyborg arm rests on your shoulder*