With remote working slowly replacing the traditional office commute, and a large number of companies being taken by surprise at the benefits of distance working, who are the people who will literally “go to work” in the future?
To understand who would be the people, we need to learn why this transition would happen.
Bias of Knowledge & Its Benefits
For over a decade now, there has been news, gorgeous Instagram posts, and facts-driven reports bombarded consistently about the good that remote-working brings to people and companies. From freedom of movement to more time for personal development, from environment protection to significant cost-cutting for businesses, the glories of not going to office are well known and often adored. This bias of knowledge encouraged through pro-remote working information has been instrumental in shaping the social construct about the practice in a more welcoming way than not. Not only has this led to more adaptation of remote working globally, but it also led to inventions of newer tools, techniques, and methods that have made flexible working a gateway for a better work-life relation.
Bias of Knowledge & Its Impediments
Impediments is a very relative term. While the fan following for remote working can have its charm, many consciously overlooked aspects usually hail from businesses that are driven by numbers than values. With a focus on making operations cost-effective and the perceived coolness by new founders in living the nomad lifestyle, the bias of the pro-remote working knowledge can often be counteractive for the greater good. The importance of human contact is one of the most ignored aspects as businesses that adapt to remote working extensively, often give priority to functional expenses and discarding the irrelevant. The problem is that relevance in this context is equally proportional to the objectives, perceptions, past experiences, and intentions of the people in power to make these decisions. Perhaps also their nature and nurture.
Helplessness of Change
The 2020 Coronavirus global economic avalanche rapidly and forcefully pushed many companies to adapt to remote-working, regardless of their choice. Not only did it just force companies, freelancers, and small businesses, but it also started the first wave of remote-learning when millions of students and teachers globally paved a new way of learning and education. From meetings to university classes, business objectives to school exams, almost everything adapted to working from their quarantined locations, remotely. This helplessness of change globally will be the quintessential element that will speed this transition. The COVID19 lockdowns have forced the world to learn new ways of thinking and doing, even if it challenged their prior notions of how to do things. A magnitude of change of this scale forcing the world to rethink ways of work and education will be paving the way for a more digital future that is bereft of the burdens of religious, social, and the so-called cultural norms.
Redefinition of the Human Value System
The collective shift in consciousness in an entire human race led by the 2020 pandemic and the adaptation to new ways of working that it spread, will lead to redefining of personal and professional values based on quality than quantity. A novel value system that weighs health before wealth, positive collaborations than destructive competitions, quality of relations with others, and the self than social media, the volume of wisdom imparted and earned than merely purchased or sold. People will be better human beings, and empathy and values will take center stage, making way for more value-driven decisions than those driven by mere numbers. The pandemic instilled the fear of survival and loss across the world while presenting a disturbingly increasing number of deaths. This collective reflection on the uncertainties of life and death will not only make the world more aware of the impact of their actions but also will lead the way to a humbler society in thought and innovation.
Proof of Concept
With widespread protagonism of the remote working culture, add to it the opportunity of digital tourism promoted by the new traveler-hungry destinations, the internet will flood with an influx of various proof of concepts and success stories of those who did this right. As aspirational human beings who are driven by the illusions of success, people will be hugely influenced by the media and information spell about the victories of remote-working. This propagandism will not only aid in making the practice more accepted but also give birth to companies, tools, and innovations that will support its smoother incorporation for the new entrants.
New Tools & Roadmaps
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. So is self-attainment. With the shift of focus on the quality of life, interpersonal relations, and environmental wellbeing, the entrepreneurs and social scientists who will bring about future inventions will create tools and roadmaps that are designed first on empathy and social good that support the positive publicity of remote working. There are already more and more extraordinary new technologies that have emerged in education, videoconferencing, business operations, and even medicine that propel the world towards having the tools to work remotely. With a plethora of reasons and an inexcusable number of ways, there will be little reason for many corporations to ignore the practice of working from home.
Who will then go to work?
Instead of focusing on the fears of automation combined with the wave of remote working, it is crucial as human beings to reflect upon our history. Change and evolution is a universal law and nature has consistently proven that human intelligence has prevailed to progress, and to be more. From making fire to finding food, inventing electricity to the internet, the natural process of changes in eras of history have often taken place with the human will. Why then not think that the age of automation and practice of remote working can perhaps lead to a new wave of thought where working or going to work is a matter of personal selection. A universal basic income (UBI) has already been the topic of discussion across many countries, although stalled at the explication on funding it. While nations and traditional policymakers struggle to understand the ways of implementing a UBI, there will be inventions by nonconformist thought leaders from the newer generations who will build technologies that aid in its creation, almost miraculously appearing suddenly. With the choice and access to a universal fund that ensures one’s necessities supported by everyday technology like the phone, the world will have more power to decide what work means to them.
With this power of selection and the age of automation freeing humans to pursue more inherent passions, it will mark the beginning of an era of evolution where technology and economy unite to support basic human needs. With this luxury of having primary means of survival along with the new tools and innovations available to operate from the world over, add to the blurring lines of social perceptions between working from an office or remotely, will lead to more self-employed roles and services. Therefore, instead of looking at positions that will disappear because of automation– be it in agriculture, publishing, postal, or driving, let us choose to focus on opportunities that will aid in social innovation.
Again, who will go to work?
If the idea of work is an illusion based on your current financial reality and past social perceptions with a dash of personal interest as well as the lack of it, the answer to who will go to work is- no one and everyone at the same time.
As we prepare for a future where robots replace humans, artificial intelligence replace doctors, machines replace traditional labor, instead of making so much noise about who will lose the race, let’s focus on how we can win. And winning is not about beating the technology and fighting for superiority in jobs. It’s about embracing evolution by adapting to change and doing what humans do best- create. Create new ways, new roles, new thoughts, new inventions, new ideologies, new technologies that do not compete against the fear of the future, but rather own it and build it with collective human intelligence. This reasoning can be baseless if there is no such universal basic income accessible to all. However, I can positively affirm it as I am building it.