So the future. In particular the future of work. What does it hold? How are we all expecting society to evolve? Join me in this thought experiment as I ponder the future.
Thought Experiment – The future of work
Every few months some fellow bloggers propose a thought experiment hosted by The Saving Ninja.
There is a statement or question posed, and every blogger writes their own thoughts. The posts are all published together and linked.
Today’s Thought Experiment was proposed by Sonia from Money For The Modern Girl and it’s a great choice.
I recently read a statistic that 85% of the jobs there will be in 2030 have not yet been created. What do you think these jobs are, and which ones will no longer exist? And what does this mean for education? What will offices look like in 11 years? Will people continue to commute to a physical office or will remote work and digital nomadism take over? Finally, how do you think this will affect the overall global economic balance?
Read the other entries here:
2030 seems so close
F*ck, am I getting old now? While I was younger the millennium seemed light-years away. But as for today to 2030, that just doesn’t feel too far away. At my rapidly advancing years, I will be 49 in the year 2030 – and 49 is not old. It is only 11 years.
How many street lighters or chimney sweeps do you know?
So while 2030 seems close in the future, I’m brought back to think of the past. There are definitely some jobs that we know about in 2019, that do not exist today.
We have heard about them in the past, know roughly the role description and seen them in films. So we can also easily articulate why most of these no longer exist. We all understand that not many have a coal fire anymore and the street lights are automatically controlled and electric. Improving technology resulted in us not needing people to carry out these jobs anymore.
How about coal miners or telephone operators?
And moving on a few decades we have some roles which have dwindled in numbers much more recently. People know older family members that had these roles, or some of the few people that are still employed in these roles. And these roles have declined for similar reasons and improvements in our way of life. Yet they are also a cautionary tale of what happens when a whole industry declines. The knock-on impact on people and communities can be devasting. And take decades to show any sign of improvement.
Climate Change impact on the future of work
As the earth warms and warms, people and society as a whole are getting concerned about our impact on the environment. More and more people are thinking about their carbon footprint and actively making choices to reduce it. This has resulted in a change in consumer behaviour already, with more predicted in the future.
Human nature doesn’t really change
One thing that never seems to change is human nature and individualism. While our society and social structures change and evolve with our standard of living, our human personalities are not so malleable. Humans will still be very complex, emotive being with a complex set of needs and interdependencies on each other.
Moreover, if some roles are made redundant by changes in the world we need a plan to help people evolve. We need plans to help train future generations to be more flexible automatically. And plans to retrain those workers whose roles end up disappearing. In summary, learning from our mistakes in the past, we need to proactively help people and ensure certain areas of the country do not end up behind.
Technology however does change
The last 20 years have certainly shown us the evolution of technology. In particular how new items (say hello to the smartphone) can become essential in everyday life in a short time period. I grew up without mobiles or the internet, yet they are seen as essential everyday items today. This is the one area where I don’t think many people will disagree. In conclusion, technological change is coming at a ferocious pace.
There will be winners and losers
As with all changes, there will be clear winners. Both the innovators who made new products that became popular and those early adopters who guessed right. These people will excel in the future world and keep a few steps ahead of the pack.
And speaking of the pack, the majority of people will do fine. Sure there will be change, and people will have to adapt, but overall life will continue much the same. The workforce is becoming more and more populated by digital natives, who will take these things in their strides much more than us oldies.
My actual predictions – the future of work
All jobs that involve repetitive actions will be gradually automated and automated. Until only the parts a computer cannot do are left. Some of the jobs that will disappear have already been earmarked and can easily be seen. Till operators, warehouse workers, accounting technicians, travel agents, typists are safe bets to be significantly reduced in numbers by 2030.
What will replace them? I think these new jobs will come in three main spheres.
- More complex computing roles, to control the automation in our lives.
- Personal services that require humans with empathy.
- Climate-related jobs as we as a society take more action on global warming.
More remote working will be the norm
As the world aims to reduce emissions, and companies want to cut costs, it will become the norm to work at home. Unnecessary travel for work will reduce, and tools to work collaboratively will grow and grow. Introverts of the world will rejoice, and extroverts will congregate in local cafes and coworking spaces.
As will more freelancing
In 2030, I predict more professionals will be freelancing. The idea of a job for life is already long gone. Moreover, the idea of a permanent contract commitment will start to appeal to fewer employees and employers. Employees with skills to market and in search of more variety and control will be drawn to step out on their own and freelancing.
And the 4 day week may become a reality
My personal preference would be for the 4 day work week to become a reality. However, despite being proposed 100 years ago, no real strides have been made in its implementation. A few political parties have played with the idea and it’s had a trial run or two without success.
But the next level of automation and the corresponding industrial revolution seems like the ideal bedfellow for this idea. Universal income will come up and be dismissed, with the 4-day working week becoming a compromise solution more people can get behind.
Although not all my predictions will come true, I’m sure some will.
Finally, as someone who really doesn’t plan on being working for money in 10 years, it has been an interesting exercise. I feel quite detached from the work part of it, yet care deeply about how our society (of which work is part) develops in the 21st century.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- What do you think about the future of work?
- Do you think the 4 day week