5 Aspects of Work that Will Change in the Future
In many ways, what Westerners understand as “work” has been going through a continually shifting revolution ever since the invention of the cotton gin changed expectations of human productivity and efficiency. With the advent of the Technological and Internet Ages, a new era of work has begun yet again, and the ways in which human work will change because of it has not yet reached its full culmination.
That being said, there are some hints on the horizon. As physical work, repetitious tasks, and even some aspects of research and journalism are subsumed by the rise of increasingly intelligent and efficient machines and software, here is a look at five ways in which the future of work is likely to be transformed.
The Nature of Motivation
The question of how to better and more effectively motivate employees has been important to managers and business owners for quite some time. Incentive bonuses, team building exercises, and the inspiring words of motivational speakers like those at Leading Authorities have helped improve productivity and are likely to do so for some time still. However, as work changes, the nature of motivation is bound to change, too.
Simply working for a paycheck or the weekend will no longer suffice. In order to motivate workers, managers will need to offer employees more nuanced and diverse incentives. More flexible schedules and the ability to work remotely will help spur employees on toward greater productivity thanks to the Internet’s ubiquity and programs like Yammer. And, as more and more high-tech gadgets flood the marketplace, these can be offered as rewards for work done well and to keep employees connected wherever they’re working from. Employers will also motivate employees through access to personal development opportunities, such as bringing in motivational or keynote speakers that will help them find ways to increase the enjoyment of their lives and work.
In short, motivation will become increasingly tied to the benefits people are beginning to expect from all the laborsaving devices, software, and machines that now fill the workplace, and they will expect these benefits to exist in the workplace not just outside of it in their personal lives. Of course, for those work environments staffed by machines instead of people, the need to motivate will become a problem of the past.
The Idea of Basic Income
There are many economists, researchers, and activists who believe job growth cannot keep up with the automation that’s accelerating throughout nearly everything, which means people will have an increasingly difficult time finding work that pays their bills since that work is being done more and more by robots, software, and machines.
To counter that reality, one solution is to grant everyone a basic income so that underemployment and unemployment that’s the result of automation won’t lead to widespread poverty. Work, then, will become less tied to money and more tied to personal fulfillment.
The Role of Education
It was during the 20th century that the idea of education changed from one of self-actualization and improvement to one of job preparedness, and even though the job market is transforming steadily, that focus on education as the path to a career remains. However, as machines and technology take over certain jobs and work over the next couple of decades, education may enter something of a Golden Age where individual improvement, knowledge, and empowerment are emphasized instead of today’s reigning concern: job-related skills and logistics. Encouraging your employees to go back to school, or arranging for them to attend a conference with engaging speakers can help them start on the path to a higher level of education.
Human capital is an individual or group’s value or cost to a country, community, or organization as measured by the knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience possessed by that individual or group. As work continues its technological shift, human capital will most likely go down in value even if skills, know-how, and expertise hold steady or improve.
This change in value may mean that the cost of investing in human capital — something undertaken by governments and companies throughout the world — is no longer seen as worthy of investment. If that happens, skills, experience, and knowledge will suffer. If the investment in human capital continues, however, people’s skills and knowledge, will acquire a value related more to effect and use in a community than to dollars and cents.
Should the changes on the horizon form the foundation of a utopia instead of a dystopia, one way in which work could positively shift is in regards to voluntary entrepreneurship. Right now, you need to have an idea that could appeal to a wide enough base to make it profitable. Thanks to basic income and the cheap work provided through technology, the entrepreneurship of the future could sustain itself by appealing to smaller subsets of the marketplace.
This would allow a tremendous amount of creativity to flow. Currently, entrepreneurship — at least in America anyway — is almost universally tied to money, which means it requires an eventual payday that’s greater than what was invested in it. Without that demand on it, entrepreneurship could become the domain of almost anyone, and it could be about almost anything.
The future of work is up for grabs, and while it’s anyone’s guess as to how it may shake out, one thing is certain: it’s definitely going to change.