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“Future of Work” Threatens the Future of Government


February 25, 2016

“Jobs are finished; role-playing has taken over; the job is a passe entity. The job belonged to the specialist. The kids know they no longer live in a specialist world; you cannot have a goal today. You cannot say, ‘I’m going to start here and I’m going to work for the next three years and I’m going to go all that distance.’ Every kid knows that within three years, everything will have changed – including himself and the goal.” – Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan’s prediction has come to pass, with a vengeance. The “future of work” became a “meme” in 2015. There will be more talk and concern about the “gig economy”, extended income inequality, and job automation in 2016. The public policy implications will be a subject during the upcoming FreeBalance Ministers’ Roundable on March 7-9 in Managua, NIC. Public policy implications include:

  • Impact of increasing urbanization on country growth, innovation and environment
  • Sharing and gig economies on government revenue
  • Loss of labour cost advantages for creating sustainable businesses
  • “Uber” on anything or everything for government regulations
  • Increasing need for skills and continuous education

Some other observations that will be discussed by ministers from FreeBalance government customers include:

Technology Enablers

The “future of work” is a result of a combination of technologies:

  • social collaboration
    • = improve efficiency of procedural & creative work, remote collaboration reduce need to orchestrate work, supports gig economy
  • big data + analytics
    • = improve decision-making, flatten management layers, sentient organizations
  • big data + artificial intelligence +robotics
    • = automation of  work
  • mobile + cloud + net access anywhere
    • = work anywhere any time (possibly where distinction between work and ‘life’ disappear thanks to work with ‘purpose’/meaning
  • artificial intelligence + genomics (with big data) + robotics
    • = augmented work
    • = trans-humans
  • speed of technology change
    • = need for agility and managing change
    • = new “war for talent”
  • increased global bandwidth + mobile + cloud + social
    • = no need for workplace

Trends and Effects

  • FROM procedural work
    • TO network thinking & sense-making
    • TO creative & inventive work
  • FROM job security + large firms + unions
    • TO startups + freelancing
    • TO return of passion & craft
  • FROM jobs, careers
    • TO “gig economy”, freelancing – independence and flexibility
    • TO best and brightest taking on contracting roles
    • TO increasing granualization of work
  • FROM offices
    • TO work anywhere, any time
  • FROM “the business of business is business”
    • TO meaning + purpose
    • TO beyond Corporate Social Responsibility & philanthropy + “non-profits” to social enterprises
  • FROM “business as usual”
    • TO accountability
  • FROM working hard and overworked
    • TO working smart, natural rhythms of productivity
  • FROM routine work
    • TO valuable creative & analytical work
    • TO increased automation of work
    • TO only most difficult work remains
  • FROM production-line human resources
    • TO gamified and metered HR
    • TO new ways to measure performance
    • TO trust networks for recruitment and retention
  • FROM traditional recruitment in newspapers, job web sites and referrals
    • TO social-media recruitment
    • TO freelance recruitment platforms
    • TO trusted systems (employees fully vetted by companies, companies fully vetted by employees)
  • FROM hierarchical organizational structures
    • TO flat structures based on merit + bottom-up management + holacracy + accountability +radical transparency
    • TO “working out loud”
    • TO authenticity in leadership
  • FROM traditional IT dictating tools
    • TO bi-modal IT enabling some agility
    • TO support for BYOD
    • TO personalized tools
  • FROM specialists
    • TO generalists
    • TO mastery of multiple domains – trans-disciplinary
    • TO “serial mastery”
  • FROM “knowledge is power” – data asymmetry, arbitrage, hoarding
    • TO “sharing is power” and data democracy
    • TO tapping into the “global brain”
  • FROM experience/expertise in decision-making
    • TO data-driven decisions
    • TO collaboration
  • FROM information scarcity
    • TO information abundance
    • TO information overload + biases ~ filter failure + cognitive overload + limited sense-making capacity + decision paralysis
  • FROM phases of worker generations
    • TO working longer + living longer
    • TO multiple generations of workers (working with your grandchildren)
  • FROM 9 to 5 Monday to Friday
    • TO 24/7 365 always on
  • FROM work-life balance
    • TO constant communications flexibility through hyperconnectiveness
  • FROM outsourcing + labour arbitrage
    • TO higher levels of automation to replace outsourcing + manual work


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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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