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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Work Like In 2020 via Guardian

The Guardian is publishing a series of articles about work and social life in 2020. From his base in Leeds, Professor Peter Nolan runs the Future of Work programme, a huge research project which has been running under the auspices of the Economic and Social Research Council for six years and across 22 UK universities. He paints a picture of a growing divergence between those employed in highly skilled, highly paid professions, and those at the bottom of the employment chain. The economy of work, he believes, will be increasingly hourglass-shaped.At the top end of the jobs hierarchy, people are likely to enjoy substantial discretion over their hours, places and patterns of working time. But this will be fuelled by the growth of low-paid and unskilled labour, doing jobs that would have been familiar 100 years ago," says Nolan. He predicts managers and those in the professions will have job security. And, contrary to the predictions of futurologists, the majority of employees are likely to continue working for an organisation, rather than for themselves, or for a series of different people. In 2020 nine out of 10 jobs will still be permanent, although maybe not full time, he says.Flexible working is the mantra of those who seek change in the way our working lives are structured - in the first six months of this year, this newspaper alone carried 67 stories that mentioned the phrase "flexible working". The government has given employees the right to request flexible working patterns, and recent survey's show a strong appetite for greater flexibility, especially among young workers. That hunger is likely to have been satisfied by 2020, by which time the way our jobs are structured will have changed massively. Many people will work as employed freelancers. People will be trained to work on a wide range of different projects, liaising with experts outside the company when additional help is needed. Companies will be smaller and more specialised. Thomas malone in his famous book, The Future of Work expresses almost similar ideas. Mr.Malone says that we are in the early stages of increased freedom in business and this freedom shall bring about analogous changes to business that democracy brought to governments. He further says that in future, enteprises shall be organised in such a way that they have economic benefits of a large organisation but provide employees the benefit of working with small organisations. Four decentralized organizational structures—loose hierarchies, democracies, external markets, and internal markets—that will be enabled by technology but centered around enduring human values shall be the dominant model. The shift from “command-and-control” management to “coordinate-and-cultivate,” and the new skills that will be required to succeed would become critical to succeed.A framework for determining if a company’s situation is ripe for decentralizing and which organizational structure would be most effective would evolve.
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