THE FUTURE OF WORK: JOURNEYING PAST THE RAT RACE
Time of death: Mon 23 March 2020 at 1800 hours.
Rest in Peace to the Rat Race.
As time ticks along, the world of work as we know it is evolving. New ways of living are emerging from the ashes of what came before, gaining in dynamism and complexity. Drawing on our learnings from the so-called “Rat-Race”, work is being taken to a whole new level.
From coal mines and steam trains to remote working and the Metaverse, humans have proved to be masterful adaptors. As we enter into the fifth Industrial Revolution, our landscape would be completely unrecognisable to your average 1700s worker – and perhaps even your 1990s office worker.
Back in the 1700s you had to pray that your coal mine wouldn’t collapse – or at least hope you could avoid the piles of human waste on the streets when plodding back home. In the modern office, a large chunk of the day was spent plotting out what time to venture to the water cooler whilst avoiding Kevin from Accounting (sorry Kevin). But in 2020, the cogs that have been turning ideologies of the past began to grind to a halt.
Now the power is in the hands of the individual, and the future is bright.
The new workforce is increasingly occupied by marginalised people. Gone are the days when bigwigs in white-powdered wigs make all the decisions. As recent graduates begin their careers, we’re seeing a larger share of people who identify as neurodiverse as well as importance be placed on their welfare at work. Up to 17% of the global population could be considered neurodiverse – so their increasingly loud voices refuse not to be heard.
We’re also seeing a trend of women past the age of 40 begin to re-invigorate their careers. It’s no longer taboo or unattainable for women to “have it all”, so despite being one of the most underrepresented and most disadvantaged groups in a business environment, they’re making their presence known and taking up space.
The future of work is defined by flexibility – the need for such is highly sought after in this new environment, being more important to many than salary. Whilst the shift to remote working from home was about as welcome as a slap in the face, it did force many of us to have to adapt. Fast.
Easing away from the lockdowns, you’d expect there to be either a hesitance or an eagerness to get back in the office. Almost two years after the infamous announcement, we’ve seen elements of both. Whilst retail and fast food restaurants have been reporting lower sales than ever due to a lack of commuters coming into their offices. We have also seen the explosion of the coworking industry with coworking spaces popping up all over the place.
People don’t necessarily want to make the long commute to their nearest megalopolis but would rather have a more convenient office space, that can seamlessly fit into their routine. The emergence of these spaces marks a win-win for everyone – for companies, it’s often cheaper to rent out a flexible space or offer coworking memberships to their staff. For employees, they get access to a community of people but are closer to home. On top of being surrounded by people with different perspectives – which is conducive to creative thinking and problem-solving.
As priorities shift, individuals’ view of their work life takes on a different meaning. Whilst hustle culture is still running rampant, there’s a growing movement among young people to make the most of their youth and not tie themselves into a career as soon as possible. This can be seen in the “ you can make the money back, but you’ll never be …” TikTok trend.
The Great Resignation that started back in 2020 continues to this day. People are realising more than ever before that they’d rather work to live than live to work. The powers that be are increasingly favouring the individual more than the organisation, with companies having to work harder than ever to entice people to join and stay.
Dodging the dreaded burnout in the current world can seem like an impossible task. The only way to avoid it is by practising Mental Health Awareness. An increasing focus on proper mental health is not only becoming a hot topic but it’s increasingly accepted in business circles. This shift in consciousness is indicative of a wider social change – the prioritisation of mental health.
So, what does the future of work even look like? In a post-rat-race world? Is it even possible?
Well, the journey past the rat race is completely uncharted waters, and we’re yet to see exactly what it entails, but we’re hopeful and curious to see what the future holds.
For more on all things future of work, be sure to check out our Work Reinvented event here. Early Bird Tickets will be on sale soon. Be sure to sign up!