I want to start off by mentioning that whatever image or thought came into your mind when you read the title of this post (The Future of Work) probably lives in the present. It’s just that you haven’t unlocked it or allowed yourself to partake in it.
Let me explain.
I, like you, believed that work meant waking up every day at the same time, going to the same place, and trading my time for money. However, over the past year or so, I’ve been engaged in a project/ form of work that is completely different from this arrangement we call work.
For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been slowly developing a living room table dubbed Taobla Tre. Tre is a living room table with removable trays that adapts to the way you chill. If you’re like me, then you probably spend a lot of time multitasking in your living room: munching on takeout while binge watching Netflix, double screening two football games, or typing away on your laptop while TV plays in the background. Unfortunately, furniture isn’t designed for us multitaskers. I haven’t been able to find a side table that helps me do all of that and look great doing it. That’s why I decided to take on the challenge (cue the superman stance).
Now the beauty of how I’m developing Tre, is that I’m doing it almost exclusively online. I have connected with an awesome product designer, Jennifer, and we’re slowly developing all the aspects that make up Tre over Skype. This means two things. First of all, if you’re looking for talented people, then you are no longer limited to the pool of prospects within a specified radius of where you live. Second, if you’re skilled at something, then you can freelance online and take on projects wherever! To me, this is ridiculously freeing. That’s not to say that there are no qualified designers in Kuwait, but that anyone with an internet connection can be part of the global marketplace.
The way we do ‘work’ has already changed. Thanks to technologies like Skype and 3D printing, you and I can take on projects that were previously impossible. This is already happening. It’s up to you to decide if you want to actively engage in it and unlock its full potential. I found out that it’s a matter of perspective: if you’re already doing work over the internet, then you don’t consider what I’m talking about ‘the future of work.’ However, if you have yet to try out a new arrangement of doing work, then you’d see it as the future.
The second thing that put this idea of work into question is The 100 Year Life. The 100 Year Life is a book about the effect of living longer on humans. The book introduces life in the three stages we’ve always known it as: Education (university), Work (desk job), and Retirement. That’s the 3-stage life. The book argues that this 3-stage life works when humans led 75-year lives, but is no longer a viable model. You see, thanks to advancements in life quality and healthcare, morbidity is also on the decline. That means we not only lead longer lives, but ones where we’re in better health even in our later years. This elongated lifespan means that our lives and the way they’re structured must change. Amongst other aspects that the book discusses, work will have to change. How long people work for, and in what spurts is thoroughly discussed in the book.
One of the topics the book talked about, which intrigued me, is the trend of people spending recreational time to re-create themselves. I think this is wicked. I believe that the 3-stage life will slowly erode. Some sectors of business are already feeling its effects, so this is not a prediction about the future. Other sectors will also follow suit as well. However, the point is that more and more people (and I believe I’m one of them) are spending time recreating themselves around their passion and purpose in life. The result of that, according to the book, are 3.5, 4, and even 5-stage lives where we take on multiple re-creational steps in transforming who we are.
This topic has me excited (if you can’t tell already, hehe), and I want to hear from you. Have you taken part in a “work” engagement that was nontraditional? How was your experience? Maybe you haven’t. What’s stopping you?
Do you believe that the 3-stage life is slowly dying? Are you leading a 3-stage (or more) life? What’s it like?