Future of work — Part 2

Exodus from classical employment

Introduction

Start-ups. Disruptors. Young entrepreneurs. These are recent terms which define the large chunk of the business market. Initially start-ups are mostly tech companies started by technical but entrepreneurial company personnel; these companies have thriven in an environment where breaking away from traditional norms could cost painful loss of stable career and shattered resume.

The collapse of the Berlin wall is the catalyst of globalisation in Eastern Europe (photo source: Independent)

In recent times, start-ups are now more of a hype definition for companies taking advantage of technology, passion, innovation and confidence. The collapse of the Berlin wall might be a marker for the start of globalisation, but the introduction of social media might have started the start-up hype.

Collapse of barriers

The collapse of the barriers to entry provided a perfect route for young entrepreneurs to enter the market without massive amounts of capital needed to organise a business. Prior to the existence of the cloud and internet, establishing a business entails massive levels of paper work and red tape which effectively discourages a start-up to build their own. Traditional channels to establish a niche market would be absurdly expensive especially in mature industries where domineering companies would fend-off new entrants to protect their vested capitals.

Social media can be the catalyst for the growth of start-ups

With the introduction of the cloud, social media, and better internet connection — there’s no longer a reason to cry lack of capital when entry to market is almost free. With social media, the start-up market changed from a purely technological industry to a radicalised industries dominated by ideas, innovation and intensity of competition at the low market level.

Saying NO to capitalism

Probably one of the key traits of classical business is embodied in the term capitalism. The massive industrial growth during the industrialisation era have changed not just how products are efficiently produced — capitalism have driven the exploitation of manpower to derive the highest level of profit despite capacity limits. With the increasing level of exploitation of manpower while limiting the personal growth of the employees, embattled personnel who believe they have what they need to succeed outside the corporate world leaves — they start the start-ups.

Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned. — Ayn Rand

The sudden growth in the number of start-ups mean one thing, employment turnover rates are high and employee satisfaction levels are low. These are clearly seen in the initial introduction of employee satisfaction surveys in the corporate world. In the past decade, companies thrived to change their practice and employee relations to improve retention and public perception (I’ll come back to this when I have sufficient thoughts on culture).

Escape from market

The exodus of good employees who have gone to start their business had become a norm as success stories are constantly shared between like-minded individuals. These are good employees who were disdained by the corporate environment where they got their experience. Moving from a corporate job to a start-up owner role can be very difficult, but what we’re seeing is how start-up owners leverage their experience (both positive and negative) into how they manage their people.

Organisation structure changes takes time to take effect (photo source: Step Two)

There is a wide gap between a laddered corporate structure and a flat-surface start-up structure. Traditional businesses rely on bureaucracy and laddered leadership to ensure a chain-of-command is followed, while many businesses have slowly adopted a decentralised organisation structure, the laddered corporate leadership is difficult to break unless a company is established as a flat-surface organisation from the very onset.

Most of the start-ups have developed a very flat-surfaced structure where employees are treated as partners. This might be one of the most interesting aspect of our generation — we like to be treated as valuable partners rather than as employees. This is totally different from what previous generations have preferred — a silver bowl with continuous supply of food. For me, personally, this is what breaks the deal and what makes people leave.

Conclusion

The introduction of the cloud, the feisty hatred against capitalism and the change in demographics have driven the growth of the start-up industry. From employment perspective, this would be a change from the career-driven generation to a satisfaction-driven generation. At the end of the day, don’t we want to make the world better place than you found it?

To leave the world a little better than you found it. That’s the best a man can ever do. ~ Paul Auster

Share your thoughts and insights, this is part 2 of my ‘Future of work’ series, for those who haven’t read part 1, please check it out here. If you liked this article, please do click the heart button below, and of course, thank you for getting up to this point.

Filbert Tsai is an accounting advisor based in the United Kingdom. Professionally, he’s sector specialisation is power and utilities and provides technical advice to companies and governments. Personally, he is an advocate of start-ups and small businesses, he’s Facebook page — Ask the Accounting Advisor — provides free business advice to budding entrepreneurs specifically those located in the Philippines.