1. The changing nature of working life – Part I


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The changing nature of working life – Part I

working life

Just like other major, historical shifts, the Networked Society will fundamentally change working life as we know it. It will change the type of business and value-creating activities we are engaged in; it will change how businesses are organized and the business development processes; it will change how we as individuals are working and the skills and knowledge we will need to acquire.

Here is an easy exercise. Ask any senior citizen you know, perhaps your grandma or grandpa, about what working life was like when they were young. Then compare that to a modern work environment and it will probably be hard for them to recognize the things we call work. Concepts like flex-time and working wherever you are will be hard for them to get their heads around. The same will be true of virtual teams that span organizations and locations as well as the blurring lines between work and private life.

A number of areas are driving this change in working life, including:

Technology and tools: These are changing due to the automation of work processes, virtualization of products and services and the mobilization of business processes and tools. Computers, the cloud, broadband and mobility are all getting more powerful and capable.

Demographics: We are seeing significant changes in demographics and diversity between generations. The millennial generation, which has grown up with mobility and internet, is entering the workforce and they have new attitudes and demands towards work. At the same time we are seeing a wave of Baby Boomers starting to retire.

For an in-depth look at millennials and their attitudes, read the latest ConsumerLab report about how young professionals see the perfect company.

Resources: We see greater demands for sustainability as well as for alternative products and services along with an increased demand for telecommuting.

Globalization: Today all businesses operate on a global market and any small business can reach the whole world with its services and products.

Organization and processes: Progressive “connected companies” are starting to organize their business differently compared to traditional companies. As the relationship with customers and the “outside world” changes, the borders of the company and what is not the company are not as distinctive anymore.

Skills and knowledge: Nowadays we have to learn a new media landscape. We work in a completely global environment and we constantly need to improve and develop our knowledge and skills.

Right now, I am starting up a research project about the changing nature of working life and I am interested in company cases – that is companies that have changed their ways of working, maybe a networked businesses, or maybe individuals who are running small businesses in a global network. Maybe there is a company that already got rid of its office building and is letting their employees work from home, in work hubs or at cafes. If you work at such company or know about any interesting company or its people, I would be grateful if you could send me some information at mikael.eriksson.bjorling@ericsson.com. In the subject field, write: working life.

Written by Mikael Eriksson Björling

Mikael is an Ericsson Networked Society Evangelist and Director at the Networked Society Lab. His specialty is in understanding how new consumer behavior, emerging technologies and industry logics are shaping the future society, and he believes that we have great opportunities right now to shape a better world. Mikael joined Ericsson in 1998 and is based in Stockholm. You can follow him on Twitter at: @mikaeleb

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