I’m a big believer in the notion that change doesn’t have to make sense for it to happen. No matter how much we’d like to reverse some changes or at least stop them in their tracks, it happens whether we’re ready for it or not.
Several business prognosticators have recently been talking about a future that will seem so completely alien to some people that it sounds pretty scary. It’s a future where practically no one has what is now considered a stable, full-time job. No more consistent five-day, 40-hour work week, with a vacation. These futurists see a time where people have many “employers” remotely and basically piece together a living by working around the clock, through many time zones, doing task after task, all by utilizing technology.
Everyone would be a freelancer. Such a scenario could have a crippling effect on family as we know it and would have a huge societal impact. The idea to take a person’s downtime and turn it into uptime that makes money leaves no time for rest, reflection or play. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? “I think it’s nonsense, utter nonsense,” Robert Reich recently told The New York Times for a story on this topic. Reich is an economist at the University of California, Berkeley and was the Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration.
“This on-demand economy means a work life that is unpredictable, doesn’t pay very well and is terribly insecure,” he told the Times. But just because it sounds terrible doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Some cities around the world have been arresting people who’ve started to dabble in just such a line of work, using ride-sharing apps chiefly among them. There are several apps that allow a person to make extra cash by offering rides to people.
In doing so, authorities say those people are skirting well-established licensing laws that taxi drivers must adhere to run their businesses. Now some states, who came on strong and banned such ride-sharing activities, are pulling back from enforcing those laws. Some smartphone apps have people do odds-and-ends tasks for a fee. Right now, many of these apps are for people who want to do some work on the side.
If you think about it, almost any job in the universe is one that is made of many tinier subtasks. Each of those subtasks can be doled out to someone willing to do them.
How long before this is the way we all work for a living?