Still working 40 hours per week? Here’s a glimpse into 2050…

“work as we know it is changing and there are many things on their way”

The way of living and working is changing rapidly as technology continues to develop. Who would have imagined walking around with a smartphone which is virtually a mini computer 30 years ago? Who had imagined that social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter would’ve become such important marketing tools for businesses? The change is likely to double in speed over the next 10 to 20 years due to new technologies rising up to the surface and finding their way to the public. Today it may be the iPhone, but tomorrow it will be the cicret bracelet.

On the same note, certain jobs nowadays did not exist about 20 years ago. This therefore suggests the creation of new roles in the times to come. However, not only the type of job but also the way of working is changing. We can expect the way we work to change, as it will drastically shift to a new working style in the next few years. In fact, this change has already started taking shape in our societies.

So what’s happening?

Until now, 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week and 160 hours per month has been the industry standard. The number of jobs, however, has started to decrease due to the implementation of new technology. As a result, life is becoming more convenient and practical. For corporations this mean less need for labour hours and lower cost of operations. People used to work much longer in the past though. According to statistics, annual working hour in the US in 1900 used to be 2900 hours annually which was reduced to 1900 hours in annual in 2000. In fact, it is known that working hours in the 1850’s to 1950’s up to now have been decreasing steadily from 4000 hours per year to 2000 hours per year. In 2015 we are looking at 1900 hours per year roughly speaking and this is expected to continue decreasing all the way to 2050 as illustrated in the following figure:

“Statistics indicate that working hours have decreased dramatically in the past decades”

The decline of working hours is obvious. As a consequence, unemployment is quite high all over the world. Access to meaningful jobs is diminishing. What should be done? Nordic countries have recently introduced a novel concept known as work-sharing. Basically, two people share the work of one person, 8 hours a day. The income will be decreased as the amount of work per person will be half, however low income is better than no income in most cases. Nordic countries, however, have a stable social welfare system so people will be able to maintain a livable wage even though the work income is low.

“Share the work with two people?”

Most evidently, Sweden has started to introduce 6 hour working days. More and more companies have started to adopt this system as a means to improve effectiveness at work. The question is; how effective is one while working 8 hours per day, 5 days per week really? Is it bringing positive effects to both work and personal life? People feel happier with 6 hour working hours instead of an 8 hour working day as they can have more time to spend on themselves which helps improve quality of life. It’s not a surprise that a country like Denmark has the happiest people on the planet!

On the other hand, merit of work-sharing is huge. The workers have succeeded to reduce their pressure and the number of healthy people has increased. That is good for a country in order to decrease medical costs for example. Also, the workers are able to work more efficiently as they have to tackle their work in a more limited working time. The idea of work-sharing would be spread around other regions in order for more people (e.g. young graduates) to get jobs under the current economic outlook.

The world is becoming more automated and the number of jobs is decreasing. Regular jobs that used to be for employees are now slowly but surely being taken care of by “robots”, in some cases literally! For instance, the person who gives out tickets at the station and the receptionist on in the department store. An automatic ticket checkers are placed in more and more stations. The receptionists in the department store are getting replaced by a high-performance computer. Should we fear these changes?

“The less we work the happier we will be?”

What can we do?

First, think about the way of making a job for yourself. It used to be acceptable to just take up a job at some company. Some of these jobs, however, are likely to be replaced by robots and machines in the next decades. Definitely, you have to be a person who can make a value which robots and machines cannot make. The technology is evolving everyday. You need to sense the current of generation and you have to look for things that you can produce. The same goes for university students aiming to go for the old fashioned “career”. Consider asking yourself the question of whether it is worth pursuing, given this outlook.

The second thing is to change the lifestyle of relying on money. In the near future, we will have to share the limited amount of work with many people. The income based on money which each person receives will be flat. Let’s alter the paradigm which is seized by money and think about new ways of living free from money. It should be necessary to survive and work in the next generation.

This on its own might sound like fairy tales to some. However, countries like Finland are already looking into the possibility of introducing a basic income for all its citizens as a means to guarantee its human rights and uphold a minimum living standard in the country. The Netherlands is also working on a pilot project in Utrecht in order to look into this very same issue. Perhaps this is a glimpse of the future? A future where work is not all that important as it might seem today. A future where free time, and what one does with it is important. A future where there aren’t all that many jobs as back in this current era. Perhaps the future of work centres more around passion and interests instead of working hours and (forced) vacation time.

In a different point of view, we will be able to have more free time. If we can think of the future in this way, don’t you think that the next future will be able to be filled with more fun and chances? Many change after financial independence so that they can work on their true passion of teaching or music etc. Perhaps we’ll be able to do these things much quicker in the future. We will be able to use free time for traveling around, taking caring of family and learning new things. Sounds great, isn’t it? What we need to do is to find a solution to maintaining our living and make a better balance of work and personal life.

Open your eyes, feel and think! The change is already happening.

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