Seismic Work Shift

There’s a huge shift under way in the workplace. Companies feeling ever-increasing pressure to do more with less are automating tasks and consolidating roles, thereby requiring fewer employees and saving on what is usually the largest expense for any company – employee compensation. Many traditional jobs, such as truck driving, are anticipated to no longer exist within a few short years. The threat of vanishing jobs is so worrisome that governments are experimenting with universal basic income programs as a possible solution.

At the same time, employees are increasingly looking for ways to make work fit their lifestyle. Societal pressures – like your family doctor’s only availability being between 9am and 3pm, or your kid’s hockey practice scheduled for Wednesdays and Fridays at 4pm – have rendered the traditional eight-hour work day impractical. Smart organizations are recognizing they have to do things differently to attract the best talent for the help they need, such as allowing telecommuting, flexible hours or innovative approaches like the five-hour work day.

Some companies are built on a concept of opt-in work – the idea that employees can choose to work (or not) whenever they want. It’s a product of the rising gig economy. Ride sharing organizations like Uber are some of the earliest examples of this structure which allows employees to control their own time.

These things are a far cry from the world of work as it came to exist a generation ago. The relationship between companies and employees has become untethered. Gone are the days of getting a good education, a well-paid job for 30 years or so, and a defined-benefit pension plan to carry you into a secure retirement.

We’re on our own in this new world of work. And we need a new approach.