One of my topics of interest is the future of work. I believe that digital transformation fundamentally changes the way we work. Two of the aspects often mentioned are the rise of remote work and more arrangements outside of traditional salaried employment. So far, I mostly considered these as independent developments that are aspects of increased flexibility when it comes to working. Then, however, I read an article titled “The Workforce Is About to Change Dramatically”.
The piece in The Atlantic covers multiple aspects. For example, how the increase in remote work could either hurt or transform the travel and hospitality industries. However, my key takeaway from the article was the connection the author drew between a rise in micro-entrepreneurship and working from home.
When you work remotely as an employee, it changes the relationship with your co-workers. I don’t want to say “weaken”. Interactions on Slack or Zoom can be intense, but it’s different. More importantly, however, online communications flatten the world, because it doesn’t make a difference whether the person sits in the next room or on the other side of the world. And it isn’t relevant whether they work on your team or whether you interact with them in a different community, such as a personal or professional shared interest group. On the Internet, you can pick your tribe instead of having to mingle with the folks you share an office them.
If you are sitting in your home, you’re first and foremost alone and working on your own, but your virtual connections can go anywhere. You may realize that there isn’t a significant difference in whether you do your work for your team or sell it on an open marketplace where you might enjoy even more freedom, flexibility, and additional money. Of course, concepts like the gig economy or passion economy are not only fueled by people sitting at home and having time to rethink their relationship with their employer, but I agree with the author that it’s a crucial aspect of it.