How the way we work is changing

Automation is destroying jobs and the employer is no longer your paternalistic chum

All changed, changed utterly: many companies no longer want to invest in expensive long-term employees with pensions and workers’ rights

All changed, changed utterly: many companies no longer want to invest in expensive long-term employees with pensions and workers’ rights

 

Robots! The robots are coming

Automation will, according to a recent World Economic Forum report, destroy five million jobs across 15 developed nations by 2020. Few are safe. John Maynard Keynes predicted a reduction of labour in Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren written in 1963. He foresaw an Age of Leisure when we all would a 15-hour-week for a good wage, then spend the rest of the time with our families and indulge our hobbies. However, this sunny outlook has changed because…

The employer is no longer your paternalistic chum

In the context of an economy that is changing quickly. They prefer to deal with contracted workers who are less secure, and in the case of the self-employed, actively prevented from collective bargaining. So…

The hustle is on!

Against this backdrop, there’s huge growth in self employment and short-term employment (many of the jobs created since the last recession are reportedly not permanent or secure). Some of these workers are actual entrepreneurs, wannabe Elon Musks or Sergey Brins, but many are just casualised workers working in less protected versions of jobs that an earlier generation did for a heftier wage packet. In this new “gig economy” people duck and dive between several different roles and tasks. Work in this economy is dubbed, by more idealistic types, a “portfolio career” and is treated as evidence of gumption and can-do-it-iveness rather than frantic desperation. Consequently there’s…

A generational divide

The divide is typically between the older workers who attained their jobs in a period of social protection and younger workers who did not. The divide is bridged whenever the older workers allow the younger workers live in their houses. The young people say…

Follow your dreams!

In the face of a working world that doesn’t want to give them full time careers, and against a backdrop of healthy self esteem, increasing numbers of young people are proactively choosing self employment (72 per cent of US millennials want to be their own boss, according to the Small Business Administration). Labour becomes a more intrinsic part of their identities than ever before and thus…

Work becomes performative

Against this hypercompetitive, individualistic backdrop, some workers cultivate industrious brand identities online and in real life, tweeting a continuous stream of #livingyourbestlife platitudes. Conspicuous labour has replaced conspicuous consumption and an ideology of continuous self-improvement ensures that nobody has hobbies anymore. We lament the lack of…

Work-life-balance

Our lamentation on that score does not mean balance is forthcoming. The stats suggest that the ratio of work to life is increasingly biased towards the former. Yet, in keeping with the individualistic ideology of the age, work-life-balance is often discussed as a matter of personal time management rather than something that is an employer’s responsibility to make possible. Yes, apparently it’s your fault you’re so stressed. So…

Hurray for fripperies!

In the absence of the old 20th-century certainties, a new wave of worker wishes to work instead among pool tables, yoga classes and beer kegs. Hipper employers and co-working service providers are happy to oblige, given that these things are significantly less expensive than defined-benefit pensions, paid holidays and dealing with a union. Thankfully, early retirement is around the corner when we are all replaced by… (return to start of article).

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