The Future of Work: Bootstrap and the New Paradigm
This article was originally published on the Australian Financial Market and is reproduced here with permission.
The future of work has been the topic of discussion among academics, journalists and investors for decades.
But the debate about what will be done about it has never been more pertinent, says Michaela Jansen, managing director of the consulting firm CareerCast.
“The fact that so many of us are now doing research and analysing the impacts of new technologies, platforms and methods means we are seeing the impact of the technology itself,” she says.
“It’s a lot more complex to understand the impact that the new technologies have on the workplace, so we have to ask questions.”
What does work mean?
There are a number of definitions of work, some of which can be applied to any type of employment.
“We’ve come to expect that we’re going to have a lot of people in jobs where there are many different tasks, so there are going to be some roles that we do well and others that we don’t,” says Jansen.
And what are the roles and responsibilities of those people? “
But then there are some that are better suited to people who are in other occupations, so those occupations are less suited to the sort of people who might have to do that.”
And what are the roles and responsibilities of those people?
One thing that’s clear is that we are now in a position where we’re dealing with the kind of work that was traditionally done in factories, she says, and it’s likely that these types of occupations are going into higher education.
“That is the future of the workforce, and what we’re seeing is that in order to do it you have to be very, very smart about what you’re doing,” she explains.
“So that you have people who can do different types of work.
So you can have people that are good at maths and science and those are the types of roles that are likely to grow, and they’re also likely to have more flexible work hours.”
What is the impact on people who don’t have a job?
People who don’s work aren’t likely to lose their jobs, but the impact can be different for people who do.
“I would be surprised if you haven’t seen some people who have found a job that they can’t stand working,” says James Gulliver, a partner at Bain & Company who has been advising employers about the future roles of employees.
“When you’re working on a project you’re also getting a pay cheque, and you’re getting a salary, and when you’re at work, you’re earning a salary,” he says.
That’s not the case for many people who work part-time, or do part-year work.
“You can be doing part-years, but you can’t be doing full-years,” he explains.
So, the question of what is the “right” way to work is one that will come up in the years ahead, says Jansson.
“If people are being paid a lot less because they’re doing less work, then there’s a significant risk that they’re going into lower-paid, part-and-for-the-lazy work, and therefore lower-paying work,” she warns.
What does this mean for employers?
There is an idea that in the future we’ll be able buy in to this idea that you can get a lot out of working part- and full-time.
“A lot of employers say that the best way to attract the best people is to have them work part time, so you can work with them for a couple of weeks at a time,” says Gullivers.
“This idea that it’s the best work environment for the best talent is not necessarily right,” he adds.
“One of the problems is that there are a lot fewer jobs, so people are more reluctant to do part time work, because it doesn’t make sense to them.”
But that doesn’t mean that part-timers are a bad thing, says Golliver.
“In a way, part time is a good thing,” he points out.
“Part time can allow people to get a bit more flexible, so they can do the kind, or at least the type of work they’re most suited for.”
He adds that it would be interesting to see what sort of research is being done on this.
“Most people will find it hard to find a job where they don’t work part or full time,” he admits.
“And so the question is whether there’s an element of ‘I can work part and full time, I can do this, and I don’t want to do any work that’s less than a certain amount, so I can take the extra pay off my salary,'” he says, before going on to point out that this is also true of many other jobs.