A Dozen Surprises About the Future of Work

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By Dr. Andy Hines

1. Hey, that’s cheating. Augmented or enhanced human characteristics will present challenges for organizations and individual talent.

2. Emerging markets rewrite the rules of work and work culture. As emerging markets improve their positions, they will influence the culture of work.

3. Intelligence shows up in unusual places. Information technology (IT) will create new forms of intelligence that will migrate into infrastructure, devices — or persons (wearables or implants), or all of the above.

4. Work now, get paid later … maybe. Do the work and get paid according to what the customer thinks it is worth (e.g., the Radiohead model, named after the English alternative rock band that released a digital form of one of its albums for free and asked customers to pay what they thought it was worth).

5. Time- or project-based employment contracts begin to mainstream. While currently in the domain of the elite athletes and actors, this will become a mainstream practice.

6. Fairness becomes impossible. The need to customize and personalize to attract talent will make across-the-board, same-for-everyone types of policies increasingly untenable.

7. Workers prefer working to live instead of living to work.Work will be a shrinking portion of time—and even incomes—in affluent nations.

8. Work increasingly becomes a thing you do instead of a place you go. Work will be increasingly thought of as a process that happens wherever and whenever.

9. Employer-provided training disappears. As organizations become increasingly reluctant to invest in training, new ways will be devised for organizations to acquire the talent and skills they need.

10. “Nearsourcing” will become preferable to outsourcing. Growing shipping costs and the complexity of global supply chains will lead to a preference for local and in-house talent.

11. Work in the happiness society changes metrics. Work as a source of fulfillment will influence a shift in measures from GDP(gross domestic product) to GDH (gross domestic happiness).

12. Meet the new boss. As Boomers approach retirement, GenX and GenY—digital natives with different expectations, goals, and work styles—will reshape leadership and work.


AndyHinesAbout Andy Hines, PhD

A lecturer and executive-in-residence at the University of Houston’s Graduate Program in Futures Studies, Dr. Andy Hines bringing together the experience he earned as an organizational, consulting, and academic futurist.

He co-founded and is currently on the board of the Association of Professional Futurists and has authored or co-authored five books:

  • “Teaching About the Future” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • “ConsumerShift: How Changing Values Are Reshaping the Consumer Landscape” (No Limit Publishing, 2011)
  • “Thinking About the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight” (Social Technologies, 2007),
  • “Scenarios of US and Global Society Reshaped by Science and Technology” (Oak Hill, 1996),
  • “Managing Your Future as an Association” (ASAE, 1994).

Hines has also written dozens of articles and speeches, presented innumerable workshops, and won numerous awards, including the 2003 Emerald Literati Awards’ Outstanding Paper accolade for best article published in Foresight for “An Audit for Organizational Futurists,” and the 2008 award for “Scenarios: The State of the Art.”

Most recently, he has appeared on several radio and television programs, including KRIV-26 News talking about the future of libraries, and the CBS “Early Show” to talk about an MTV-commissioned study: “The Future of Youth Happiness.”