Happy Labor Day! Work sheds its industrial-era chains

Thoughts about major shifts away from pre-conceived notions of work.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In observance of Labor Day in the United States, Saul Kaplan, founder and chief catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory, posted a list of ways work is changing, driven in large part by the transition from an industrial to an information economy.

Saul cited 20 changes -- here are some selected highlights, with my comments added:

  • "Work becomes more about meaning and impact than repeatable tasks": Repeatable tasks are being increasingly automated, leaving the higher-level cognitive tasks to human workers.
  • "9 to 5 is so yesterday": We're connected 24x7, and businesses need to function 24x7. It doesn't mean workers need to be working 24 hours, but it directs their energies to times that their productivity is needed the most.
  • "Global sourcing goes on steroids enabling third-world opportunity and growth": Many observers and pundits express fear and loathing about offshoring, but the opportunities flow both ways. Robust third-world economies mean more markets.
  • "Free Agent Nation becomes a reality": Many workers and professionals will engage organizations on a project-by-project basis, applying their talents as needed, for highly negotiable rates.
  • "Changing nature of work transforms our daily commute and transportation systems": More virtual and project-driven work means less daily 9-to-5 commuting, relieving congestion on highways.
  • "Education is no longer K-16 but a life long commitment": In a hyper-competitive global economy, skills gained in a four-year college by age 22 quickly become outdated. Everyone will likely change careers several times throughout their lives; the educational system needs to adapt.
  • "Workforce and economic development are transformed and become indistinguishable": Communities are understanding that having skilled workforces is an asset for growth.
  • "Industrial era organizations give way to purposeful networks": Goodbye, centralized hierarchical organizations; hello, horizontal confederations of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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