Though it may not be happening quickly, technological unemployment is still coming down the pipeline with the rise of robotics and AI (AKA automation). Let’s have a look at what the future of work might look like and how best to prepare for the era of automation.
- The future of work is “hyperspecialization.”
- In order to prepare for this shift, a focus on unique abilities and personal brand will be required.
- One of the biggest challenges is that the labour market, though it has advanced, still operates from an outdated paradigm.
- Companies need to rethink the user experience and how they find people to do work for them.
Who’s got the Power?
Where employment is concerned, the power scale has always been in the hands of the asset owners ie. the company, the farm, the factory, etc. The recruiting model has pretty much remained the same for centuries. Job seekers struggle to find their way to the top of the pile, and owners generally follow a 4-step recruitment process from interview to hire. Generally speaking, hiring has been based on experience, aptitude, skill & education.
The new generation of workers are savvy to the recruiting process, but can they walk the talk? Technology is speeding up and budgets are shrinking down; combined with a pressure-cooker of innovation demands. Owners have less time to risk on employee turnaround and are turning to ways to automate and lower the head count.
There will always be a demand for the things only a human can provide, but the days of 9-5 security are numbered. We think this is good news. Enter the gig economy, a labour market that seeks to match specific needs to the people with the unique abilities to serve those demands. It might just look like a world where everyone has the potential to contribute. A new model is emerging.
Hyperspecialization | Personal Brand Identity + Space Monsters
According to the Harvard Business Review, “much of the prosperity our world now enjoys comes from the productivity gains of dividing work into ever smaller tasks performed by ever more specialized workers... We are entering an era of hyperspecialization – a very different, and not yet widely understood, world of work.”
Your unique skills and talents become your biggest assets. Imagine that an individual is very talented at drawing space monsters. Can they make a career out of this? In a time where the internet makes the world seem like a much smaller place, yes. In a gig economy, you are able to do pretty much anything - even draw space monsters - for different companies that may hire you on short-term contracts or as a freelancer. There are game designers, authors, movie or TV producers, and a range of other workers who potentially need good drawings of space monsters, and will be willing to pay you for them.
When you market yourself as someone who is specialized in a very specific skill, and then put yourself out on the global marketplace, you have the potential to reach potential customers who are shopping for what you can provide. You become part of a global labour force that spans beyond geographical boundaries. Digital networks enable people to create their own personal brand. Technology gives you the power to personalize how you use it. This freedom is a breath of fresh air to be yourself, instead of fitting into an outdated model.
The New Rules of Employment
The current labour market works much the same as it did thirty years ago. Take vacation rentals, for example. Pre-internet, you would flip through ads in newspapers or catalogs to find a place to stay. When the internet made its appearance, you were able to view listings online, but the process was much the same. It wasn’t until the disruptive technology Airbnb came along that the user experience really started to change.
HR and labour markets are stuck in this old paradigm. Millennials intuitively feel something is broken, they aren’t interviewing well, the process feels foreign. The internet holds so much potential, that companies need to rethink how they find people that they are willing to pay to do work for them.
In a digital economy, even work permits are outmoded; according to FirstMonday.org, “In a planetary labour market, everything does not happen everywhere. But, key spatial constraints (e.g., the need for commuting, to leave the house, and to obtain visas and permits) can be circumvented. This forces us not to imagine away the always-existing economic geographies of work, but to ask questions about how they will shape and be shaped by the potentials for planetary-scale interactions.”
Websites like Glassdoor allow employees or those who have interviewed to review companies. This is causing some good dynamics and is forcing companies to think about the user experience, creating a sense of accountability.
Enter, the Global Liquid Digital Economy. The Economist Intelligence Unit: Digital Economy Podcast describes the global digital economy as the usual economy, digitized. They say this has led to changes in many aspects of production and consumption. It’s time to break through the old labour market paradigm. Companies now have access to more users than ever before. Every consumer also has access to more options than before. Companies and consumers are no longer constrained geographically. A global liquid digital economy connects people, companies, and ideas like never before.
The Future Of Work – Ai Vs. Creativity
AI is great for repetitious work that will most likely displace white-collar workers. However, it falls short when it comes to creativity. While AI will remove a lot of jobs, most of these will be considered “crappy” jobs, or jobs that are undesirable to the average person.
According to Forbes,
“the first companies employing AI systems across the board will gain competitive advantage, reduce cost of operations and remove head counts. Whilst this may be a positive from a business perspective, it is obvious why this a worry for those working in roles at risk of displacement... Although AI will affect every sector in some way, not every job is at equal risk. PwC predicts a relatively low displacement of jobs (around 3%) in the first wave of automation, but this could dramatically increase up to 30% by the mid-2030’s. Occupations within the transport industry could potentially be at a much greater risk, whereas jobs requiring social, emotional and literary abilities are at the lowest risk of displacement.”
The key to the future of work is “hyperspecialization”, or finding what your unique ability (i.e. your favourite mode of production) is, and becoming highly specialized in that one thing. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, this fits into self actualization. Once your basic needs are met, you can spend more time doing what you love. What you love tends to be what you’re good at.
The key is to market that unique you to those seeking your special talents.
Call to Action
Contact HeroX to find out how your business can use crowdsourcing; not only to prepare but to optimize on the Future of Work. Can you think of a Challenge that might help the world prepare for the future of displaced workers? Share your ideas!
Photo Credit: lillyanna of Ballina/Australia