Futuribles Journal n° 422

Entreprises, travail - Société, modes de vie

How Will We Work Tomorrow? Five Strong Trends in the Development of Work

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We have seen a proliferation in recent years of books, studies and reports on the future of work in the digital age: “Uberization” (or “platformization”), the rise of self-employment, contract working etc. Are we on the eve of a radical transformation of work as we have known it for more than a century in terms of its organization (hierarchy, Taylorism etc.) and legal framework (permanent contracts, very limited mobility etc.)?

Martin Richer, an observer of — and consultant on — change within companies in the fields of work and management, examines the potential prospects in this area. He has identified five major trends: the extreme fragmentation of work (its breakdown into countless tasks, the use of multiple intermediaries or different types of worker, the intensification of work, the modification of value chains etc.); automation (boosted by the spread of robotics and digital technology); platformization (disintermediation, new interfaces between labour supply and demand etc.); individualization (which substantially changes the relation to work and expectations about it); and violation of the duty of loyalty (which flows, in part, from the above and confirms the slackening of ties to the company). These trends, which are all based on socio-economic and technological developments being experienced by developed societies, attest both to the durability of some modes of organization (neo-Taylorism, increased surveillance, etc.), the proliferation of statuses and occupational relationships and the diverse aspirations of individuals with regard to work. As Martin Richer highlights, they all present new risks (casualization, health etc.), but also new opportunities. The challenge of the revolution that the world of work is currently undergoing is immense; it behoves everyone (workers, companies, political representatives etc.) to grasp its scale in order to find the optimal response.

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