Over the last 2 years, Samatha Horrock & Justin Bosco, have worked while living in more than 20 countries. South America, Peru, Chile, Barbados, Croatia, Austria and Reunion Island are some of the most exotic countries they have travelled (at least once a month) and both have been holding their respective jobs.
Welcome to the brave new world of work. This is the enhanced version and the new avatar of freelancers. The Digital Nomads. For them, work is where the Wi-Fi is and this is the future of work enabled by technology and reaffirmed by new age thinking.
The pandemic has had its own devastating impact on people, business and the society bringing untold miseries and unexplainable challenges. While the impact of the pandemic on the economy is yet to be ascertained and established in all its entirety, I am sure it will also bring in its fair share of learnings and course corrections.
For me personally, I have gone through a whole new paradigm shift in my own understanding of the emerging world of work as opposed to the traditional workplace. This ‘Work from Home’ arrangement have prompted a few questions that have thrown open a whole new possibility.
- Is it absolutely necessary to have all employees essentially operate out of office? There are so many who may prefer to work within the confines of home which opens up a whole new segment of potential hires for consideration. The latest Microsoft survey of 2021, indicates 40% of employees are planning to quit, if flexibility of working from home criteria is withdrawn.
- Does every employment have to essentially translate into a 9-5 and a 5-day week option? Can there be ‘task & outcome’ based options that create a win-win for people and enterprise? Are we likely to see a lot more hybrid contracts including gig?
The questions above open up a whole new possibility, setting the stage for the gig economy. Technology has played a huge role in making this happen and the pandemic brought in the realization that it is possible. The need for a traditional physical office with a defined assembly of workforce is being challenged with a mobile and hybrid workforce all connected on the human cloud. This permeates meaningful, focused and productive people engagement enabling a whole new world of work.
New questions, the answers of which now start becoming meaningful and brings in a completely new perspective in place.
Here are few questions from the enterprise’ point of view.
- Does creating a healthy hybrid mix of employees, which include contractual and gig workers, bring in agility and enhance enterprise health?
- Does human resource essentially be an ‘in-city’ or for that matter an ‘in-country’ located resource? Can enterprise now leverage the option of seeking relevant talent from geographies that offer the respective edge of convenience, price or quality?
From the employee’s point of view
- If layoffs are inevitable in life leading to instability and risks, then multiple sources of employment and earnings suddenly start becoming meaningful. Samantha and Justin’s story may not be widely seen now but definitely is an enviable trend that is brewing round the corner.
- In India, thousands of people from B & C class towns relocate to a handful Indian cities for jobs and livelihood. Can remote and gig working enable a improvement of employments in these towns?
- The need of supplemental income has always been of interest to the millennial and Gen Z, which further accentuates the possibility of gig working.
Gig economy + Enabling technologies= A borderless gig economy. This will open more opportunities of gainful employment as well as harness enterprise need for agility.
From the Government’s point of view however, this disruption is not going to be easy on society. There are laggards in every society and they will go through a frustrating experience in making a living. New enabling laws that make transitions smoother will need to play its own role in the new and emerging ecosystem.
The World Economic Forum in 2018 has predicted that while more than 75 million jobs will be lost globally on account of technology and digital transformation, there could be 133 million new ones that will get created. This takes me back to my experience in the mid 80’s in the public sector bank that I served, where employee unions resisted computerization fearing job losses. Today, we have progressed far beyond computerization into net banking driven by AI and ML, while the jobs still continues to grow. Resisting change is normal but if the change is inevitable, it makes more sense in whole heartedly walking down the adoption route. There will be pangs and hardships of adoption but the benefit lies in staying ahead of the curve in the entire learning process.
If the future of work is here to stay, then the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon suddenly brings more meaning to society, business and enterprise.
Here is a whiff of it.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I am a dreamer but I am not the only one
I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.