The Summer of the Future of Work

Happy Canada Day! Across the Northern Hemisphere, the start of July marks a summer break from work and school which resume in full swing in September.

What’s different in 2021 is that the September return-to-work will for many mean going back to the workplace for the first time since March 2020!

Indeed, the global pandemic has kept many working and studying from home for the better part of 15 months in anticipation of mass vaccination. When Every Day is a New Normal, that’s plenty long to make the return feel more like a first day of school, or the start of a new job, both figuratively and literally.

What will become the workplace of September 2021?   The reelyActive team thought about that—because it affects us too—and produced a white paper, Towards the Future of Work (français | español), based on our extensive experience with forward-looking organisations and their diverse workplaces.

July and August are all that stand between us and a new reality. For organisations and their internal champions who see this as a window of opportunity, this may well be the Summer of the Future of Work: a two-month sprint towards a workplace at the service of its occupants, empowering employees to execute their mission with renewed purpose, autonomy and efficiency.

Can it be done?   Yes, it already has, and we’re here to help.

Will it be done?   The time to answer that question is now.

Fear Not Distribution that Works

We recently attended the inaugural Digital Future of Work Summit at NYU where Michael Chui, Partner at the McKinsey Global Institute emphatically responded to a question saying:

I’m more afraid of income inequality than I am of Skynet!

Two weeks later, we attended the IEEE RFID Conference in Phoenix where Professor Katina Michael equally emphatically responded to a question saying:

I’m afraid that [Skynet] will exacerbate the problem of income inequality!

¡Hasta la vista, middle class! Will that really be the outcome of pervasive computing and the IoT? Because you can argue that we are building the equivalent of Skynet, the collective machine intelligence antagonist in the Terminator film franchise, albeit with the opposite intent — our vision is ubiquitous machine-contextual-awareness at the service of humanity.

What we see instead is the emergence of a Pervasive Sharing Economy which will empower resources, both material and human, to advertise and optimise their utility. And the pioneering spirit of the Internet and its proponents provides cause for optimism, as we argue in our post Vint Cerf and the Good Fight for the IoT.

Ultimately, however, financial interests will determine if and when this vision is realised. That is why we argue for Investing in a Value-First Sharing Economy. Investing in the paradigm of connecting rather than collecting information is perhaps all it takes to reverse our collective fear:

How will we distribute the unprecedented amount of value unlocked through massive gains in efficiency!