Tech strides ahead while we drag the chain

Tech strides ahead while we drag the chain

Summary: In a world where technology has enabled working from home and working from any device, work is no longer really work, and the nine-to-five office day is dead.

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In a world where technology has enabled working from home and working from any device, work is no longer really work, and the nine-to-five office day is dead.

That's according to a presentation by IBISWorld on the future of work, which I listened to today at a joint Optus and VMware event.

It turns out that people throughout the ages have put in an average of 75,000 to 85,000 working hours over their lives. Earlier, this was at a high rate (3000 per year), and the people died earlier. Now, it's 1500 per year, which we do for around 50 years and still have a retirement period of 10 years.

But now, it seems, the idea of the fixed work day is going to die altogether, as we move from an input-based system to one based on outputs.

This is being driven by the internet generation; people who are savvy and switched on 24/7, and who don't want to be constricted to a particular set of hours, but crave flexibility. This has driven 28 per cent of the workforce to take part in part-time work as it suits them; a percentage that IBISWorld said is second only to the Netherlands. And many part-time workers are now choosing to work from home, which is another big trend. IBISWorld said that around 1.4 million Australian workers now work from home.

Currently, the workforce is made up of 8.4 per cent employers, 8 per cent contract workers, 61.9 per cent employees and 15.7 per cent union members. IBISWorld predicted that in 2020, the makeup would move to be 9.5 per cent employers, 15 per cent contractors, 59.5 per cent employees and 11 per cent union members.

IBISWorld believes that eventually, the term "employee" will disappear altogether, as workers are their own business, negotiating with other businesses for work on a contractual basis.

Now, there are many things that would need to happen before we can reach this. The first is that people need to better understand how to run themselves as a business, and have the resources to do so. I have no doubt that technologically, we are ready for this move, but culturally? I doubt it. People would need to be savvier with their tax, and with the management skills inherent in supervising outcomes versus hours on the clock.

What do you think? Are we falling behind technology in terms of work practices?

Topics: Government, Government AU, Telcos, Optus, IT Employment

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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