A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about.
For all the talk about the “Future of Work”, it still seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? It can feel like we have quite enough to deal with in the Present of Work, without thinking about what the future might hold. Automation, AI, “Precarious Employment”; the subject is awash in sometimes confusing jargon. Indeed, aside from taking the odd Uber, most HR professionals I know view the “Gig Economy” as a bit of a buzzword, not as an immediate reality requiring our attention.
I’ve come to believe that we’re wrong about that. In fact, I think that the haze of information about what is happening, and what is possible, have obscured a clear shift in the labour market that we need to be paying closer attention to.
Gig economy: “The use of online platforms to engage in project- or task-based freelance work delivered over the Internet.” (via iLabour)
A couple of articles in The Economist and The Atlantic this week have me thinking about peak jobs again. Especially since The Economist article pulls in the thoughts of anthropologist David Graeber, as my last blog post on the topic did. As a reminder, the concept of peak jobs refers to a point at which technology’s destruction of jobs (through automation or innovation) meets or exceeds its capacity to create jobs (through demand for technological goods and services). As I’ve written about previously, anxiety related to peak jobs has amplified in recent years as the type of jobs being automated has shifted from the most menial roles to jobs that we previously viewed as safe. This, combined with a broad hollowing out of middle management jobs in many sectors (jobs we still tend to agree are safe from automation), has left a larger group of us watching our backs for the encroaching robot workforce. Read more
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. Read more
I think a lot about the future. And although I’m not that old, I’ve already learned that the future, when one gets there, differs from the idea of the future in ways that are unexpected and impossible to predict. I think it’s this ‘certain uncertainty’ that drives us to continually envision possible futures. But these visions, fed by our past experiences and current outlook, often tell us more about our present selves than they do about where we’ll actually end up.
I’ve been reading a lot of superb, thought-provoking visions of the future of work and Human Resources from others recently, and grappling with what they might mean for us as employees, managers and HR professionals. The difference between many of these possible realities is vast, but this shouldn’t surprise us- humanity’s visions of the future are often shaped by the contrasting themes of utopia and dystopia. Read more