“Are People Getting Dumber?: The World Grows More Complex” presents one of the funniest social commentaries I’ve ever read. At another level, I know it’s not a funny issue of course. Rather, this turns out to be an interesting one to think about. Here is an excerpt as written by Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor in the School of Education who studies the sociology of intelligence at the University of Delaware:
Many of us feel stupider by the year, if not the week. Age and ill health take their toll, but Mother Nature isn’t the culprit. It’s those clever people busily complicating our lives, innovation by innovation, upgrade upon upgrade. They don’t lower our native intelligence, but relentlessly burden it… Just ask a humorist. One “Frank and Ernest” comic strip shows a caveman pointing to an engraved stone tablet and saying: “Look! I just invented writing!” His companion says: “Thanks a lot! You just made everybody else in the world illiterate!” Continue reading →
Previously, we explored cultural as well as psychological and sociological factors determining receptivity to telework implementation in various regions of the world. As you may have guessed, there are still more angles to explore. Here I’ll discuss some societal structures that impact telework adoption as outlined in Growing the Virtual Workplace: The Integrative Value Proposition for Telework by Alain Verbeke, Nathan Greidanus, and Laura Hambley with support from the recently published Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried. Continue reading →
Where we’ve been, where we are currently, and where we are heading as workers (pertinent to the United States in particular) as summarized in the image below. As indicated by the concluding remark, some things have a way of making a comeback. Emerging conditions necessitate and support people’s ability to act as free agents – this means cultivating a business mindset when it comes to your career. I’ll let this image tell the whole story. Continue reading →
Excellent points and questions raised by Jane Watson with regard to growing job insecurity and what may come out of this wave of creative destruction. I especially appreciated the section on humankind’s resiliency and how difficult it is to foresee what kind of work we’d create for ourselves. Terrific analysis!
We live in an age of job insecurity. If it wasn’t enough to be worried about being ‘restructured’ or outsourced, the recent surge in press about the robot workforce of the future gives us another reason to toss and turn at night.
“You’d better be nice to the robots”
The chatter about how many of us will be replaced by robots in the coming years has reached fever pitch of late. Some of it is rehashed fear-mongering (“Just look at what happened to the travel agents!”), but others raise provocative points about what the future of work will look like. Recent studies and analyses indicate that automation has the potential to make 45% - 70% of today’s jobs obsolete in the coming decades, and that a key competency for the employee of the future may be the ability to work alongside collaborative robots.
In a previous post, I mentioned the possibility of a future in which a greater proportion of the population work as free agents (such as described by Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation). Although this is an ideal that I would embrace for myself, the picture isn’t all rosy as this also means fewer secure employment opportunities being available for those who want them. The days of having a secure job at the same organization for one’s entire work-life have declined indeed, however it’s become apparent that not everyone has made the adjustment in mindset. Furthermore, there are many who are ill-prepared for, and/or don’t welcome, the difficulties associated with more autonomy and taking a more entrepreneurial approach with their careers.
Apparently, there appears to be room for debate about automation being the cause behind the decline of jobs (see Robert D. Atkinson’s post - an explanation which, I’ll admit, is new to me). In addressing a transition to a more entrepreneurial way of life however, I agree with many of the recommendations proposed by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of Race Against the Machine. In this book, they listed changes to policies and societal infrastructures to support people as conditions necessitate a greater need to be one’s own boss – subject matter that I’ll cover in a future post.
For now however, I’d like to share some tips, videos, and articles that may prove helpful in putting you in the mind-frame to think about important steps to be taken if you happen to be dealing with job loss under these current conditions. Continue reading →
Stories of young adults facing the realities of advancing in today’s work world (like this one here) bring to mind one of the worst aspects of working in the silos of the Industrial Age. Those of us who want to make a living off of our desire to excel in multiple fields are constantly reminded that having anything more than a monotonous list of the same roles on our résumé or LinkedIn profile page is the “kiss of death.” Yet, those of us who count ourselves as polymaths have experienced how expertise in one field, through providing a fresh perspective and broadened understanding, enables us to make valuable contributions to work in another. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where we can point to our multifaceted experiences, flexible minds, and insatiable curiosity as advantages and be taken seriously? Continue reading →
Since the rise of the Industrial Age, the vast majority of the population have chosen to go with regular employment in order to make a living due to existing incentives (e.g., pensions, benefits, etc.). Since this trend has been the norm for quite some time, self-employment has become perceived as “the ugly stepchild” – something people turn to when they “can’t get a job.” It’s true that a good contingent of people are forced into this situation, however there are still many who purposely choose it. Are they crazy?
Often I’ve heard that those who prefer regular employment and those who prefer self-employment don’t understand each other. Indeed, it seems to be the case of different values, motivations, and fears. I believe this gap between those who have an employee mindset and those who have a self-employment mindset is encapsulated well by one of my favorite Aesop’s fables, “The Dog and the Wolf.” For those who are unfamiliar with this story, here it is in the video below: Continue reading →
Professor Colin Jones provides excellent historical background and synopsis of the various forces behind the move towards a more flexible approach to office work. As he points out, there is no end in sight when it comes to widespread resistance to this new way of working. However, there are definitely some clear benefits to organizations that manage to take full advantage of information communication technology. Moreover, to the degree that commuting and expansion of office buildings is curtailed, the more potential benefit to the environment will be realized. Some commentary on potential long-term changes with regard to the office market is also provided in this post.
The office has perhaps always been around as a place of work and administration, whether it be in a Roman palace, a room in a sixteenth century merchant’s house or purpose built buildings from the mid-nineteenth century. And in some ways today’s office is not that different from one in ancient Greece. There is the fundamental need for a desk and a chair. But over the last forty years information communication technology (ICT) has transformed how we use an office. Images of an office with desks piled high with files stuffed with papers and banks of filing cabinets are not perhaps quite yet in the dustbin of history but are not as prevalent as they were even a decade ago. The ‘paperless office’ once seen as a goal to aim for is here today, it just crept up on us (although I still have an untidy desk). The next decade is likely to bring the extensive adoption of the ‘wireless office’.
And the information age is dramatically altering work patterns. Broad band and emails have brought greater opportunities to work at least part of the time from home and the use of Improved mobile technology will enable even more flexibility in work patterns. It is becoming impossible to avoid your emails. The fact that you can now do ‘office’ work almost anywhere means that to a degree there is a return to the origin of the office.
Are you a technological evolutionist, catastrophist, or transformationist? This post will go over the meaning of these worldviews against the backdrop of technological advancement and globalization as considered by Great Transitions: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead (Rasin, P.; Banuri, T.; Gallopin, G.; Gutman, P.; Hammond, A.; Kates, R.; & Swart, R.; 2002).
In comparing the magnitude of the current technological transition to previous major transitions (e.g., stone age to early civilization and early civilization to the current modern era), Great Transitions, which is available here, introduces six worldviews with respect to technological advances, each describing a possible future. These worldviews encompass various philosophical and political thoughts including, “technological optimists and pessimists, market celebrants and Cassandras, social engineers and anarchists. Crudely, archetypal social philosophies can be placed in three broad streams – the evolutionary, the catastrophic, and the transformational…” (p. 9) and these are explained further below (pp. 9-10): Continue reading →
Over the weekend, I went on a YouTube binge trying to identify the most informative videos on the future of work. This actually took quite a bit of time investment but guess I’m just obsessive like that! I selected the following videos on the basis of quality of content as well as diversity of opinions, hoping to cover the positive and negative aspects of work in the near future. These videos were also selected for conciseness as I know that not everyone can (or wants to) watch a bunch of hour-long videos (although there are some great lectures out there!). I’ve listed the videos in no particular order and have, instead, attempted categorization on the basis of what target audience might be most interested. They are all still worth watching regardless of who you are however! Enjoy! Continue reading →