The world is in the throes of global change. We are experiencing an advent of technologies that boggle the mind with their abilities, an age where robots can become bosses and people and computers are working seamlessly to generate unprecedented volumes of work. Twenty years ago, the corporate, 9-to-5 mindset dominated the world of work. Major corporations like Wal-Mart and IBM controlled the world of work, wielding thousands of employees that smaller businesses could not compete with. It seemed like the only way to beat them was to work for them, gaining a tiny piece of their enormous pie.
Today, however, the advent of technology and access to information has made the new world of work bright, colorful, and a vibrant place of energy. The world of work from twenty years ago is fading into memory, and a rich global marketplace is taking its place. While we may romanticize the new world of work and demonize the old, it’s important to remember that both have their place in history.
The New World of Work is Global
The world of work is changing focus, from inward towards one’s own organization, or even country, to outward, on a global level. The ease of access to information in today’s world, brought to us by the world wide web, is unmistakable. The millennial generation, which is now firmly within the realm of working age, has a curiosity, a thirst for the outside world that shows even in the type of work they choose to do.
Denis Baranov is one such millennial, who said in an interview with Jane Bird: “I…value being able to collaborate with colleagues based in locations such as New York and Argentina, and I like being able to learn something new every day.” His reaction to his “coworkers” is typical of today’s workforce. The younger generation desires creative, collaborative work with a variety of people. They also enjoy working with people from a variety of countries and cultures different from their own.
As one might expect, since the surging tidal wave of workers flooding the marketplace are the millennial generation. Millennials grew up under an economy that floundered and struggled to support the offices and factories that their parents worked in. Many of them saw workers kicked to the curb, and the effects of that had an impact on their attitude towards work. Work was a bad place, and the boss was the enemy. There’s been an increase, coincidentally, with people choosing to work for themselves, or to become part of a human task force that uses a computer and an internet connection to complete projects that companies outsource through websites that platform connections between the companies and the laborers. In fact, that’s exactly how this article came to you.
In her article for ft.com, Sarah O’Connor calls this task force “the human cloud,” likening it to a global hive mind. People from all over the world sit at their computers performing tasks. This allows companies to outsource task-based projects that don’t require degrees or specialized skills. Resumes are not required, which appeals to a lot of non-traditional workers as well. Finally, one of the most important pieces of flexibility that this type of work affords is unusual hours. Many unique family situations, students, and even the common worker often enjoy having work that fits into a different schedule than the usual 9-to-5. The concept of the human cloud allows workers to make their own schedules and fit their work around their lives, instead of the other way around.
And also Technological
Twenty years ago we did everything on paper. But paper is quickly fading into a digital age. The new technology of the workplace has two advantages never before seen: speed and cost-effectiveness. It used to be that the technology we needed was just out of reach. We needed a way to log employees’ productivity output without having to monitor it ourselves. We have that now. Those companies who had the money bought the technology when they could with the understanding that technology is the future of work. But now, even small- to mid-sized companies can afford big data, and because of this they can compete in a global marketplace where the playing field is evening out day by day.
Because of the speed at which these new technologies are developed and integrated into today’s companies, this prospect frightens some workers. We find this distrust especially in older generations who forget that we’ve been working side-by-side with machines since the Industrial Revolution, and with tools before that. Big data is the new field that the computers plow, and as always, the hand of the worker is the one guiding the furrow.
The new world of work is global, flexible, and technological. We have nothing but a bright future to look forward to as we participate in this new working community.
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