What job? This here’s work.
|October 7, 2011||Posted by Sophy Bot under Internet culture, Work/Life Separation|
Call it the death of the office, or the death of the job, or – if you’re more of an optimist – the rise of the internet workplace. Call it scary, call it wrong, call it different, but whatever you call it, take a good long look at it, because it may be the way things are headed.
A recent post on marketing expert Seth Godin’s blog points out that the post-Industrial Revolution era is coming to an end and with that comes the end of the factory worker/job stability mentality. Whereas before, in Godin’s words, “the inefficiency caused by geography… permitted local workers to earn a better wage,” nowadays people are coming together virtually, eliminating the previous location-centric job market. Customer service can be outsourced overseas. Development projects can go to the lowest bidder. Repetitive tasks can be automated, or else parceled out to faceless internet masses. Design can be crowdsourced. Problem-solving can be gamified. Even the employees who are left after everything else has been doled out can log on from home and do their work there. Punch cards need not apply.
The traditional office created by the industrial age required a 9-to-5 career mentality. Each person in the office had a job to do, a specialty to focus on, and a clear perch within the organizational hierarchy. The corporate ladder could bring you from intern to junior to senior to partner, all based on dedication and job longevity, and with no unexpected digressions into other specialties. You did as you were told, you worked your way up, and you didn’t overstep your boundaries. And then came the internet. As Godin points out:
“If the pressured middleman can find a cheaper source, she will. If the unaffiliated consumer can save a nickel by clicking over here or over there, then that’s what’s going to happen.”
The tumbling of geographic barriers has provided access to higher-quality work at a lower price, offering up enormous benefits to companies worldwide. Job longevity is no longer the deciding factor in finding the right leader for a given project. Even if Mr. Jones has been with the company for 30 years, if 25-year-old Johnny’s internet-submitted proposal undercuts the price and provides a greater scope, Mr. Jones may be out of the running. This has opened up a world of opportunity not only for the companies themselves, but for enterprising individuals as well. It’s no coincidence that the internet era has brought an unprecedented rise in freelancing and entrepreneurship. Whereas once you had to wade through many years of grunt work to be given the chance to manage an interesting project, now, just a few years of hard work can give you enough experience to apply for it directly.
At the heart of Godin’s post is a predicted shift: from jobs to projects. In his own words, “the future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects.” The change will come as a rude shock to many and as a great boon to others. The more enterprising among us stand to benefit from the ability to pursue our goals without the need to spend years working our way up the corporate ladder. For others, their job security is suddenly called into question and the prospect of being replaced by a recent college graduate is no great thrill. Whatever the changes do bring, one thing is clear: ultimately, society can only benefit from having better work available at cheaper prices. There is a greater burden on individuals to produce higher quality work, but there is also greater opportunity to follow your own passions and to find work therein. As the nature of work continues to shift, don’t be surprised if one day somebody asks you, “Would you like to take this job?” and you find yourself responding, “I can’t. I’m too busy working.”
found via GigaOm