Today it is fashionable and popular to examine the so-called ‘future of work.’ Smug dilettantes embark on dubious ‘work redesign’ efforts. Pundits make lofty claims. They charge handsome fees to expose their soaring hubris. They make it sound like rigid work practices have not changed one iota since Bartleby the Scrivener, uttered his famous five words, “I would prefer not to.”
The future of work is a farce and it’s everywhere. Beware.
Thing is, work is perpetually changing, adjusting, driving forward. If productivity growth ever stops, or even slows, well, then there will be no more work!
Furthermore, the problem with so-called work (re)design, the reason it is meaningless, is Parkinson’s Law, the essential, mid-century maxim, to wit, – “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Thing is, when work, per se, is the focus, then (re)design just gives new ways to work. The ‘new ways’ expand just like the ‘old ways.’ That’s an ironic farce. Good-bye.
Take a second and imagine if you told the boss you’d rather focus on outcomes. Then, on Tuesday, you achieve the week goal she set for you. Do you then say ‘ta-ta‘ and head-off to the beach, Wednesday through Friday, for the balance of the ‘work’ week?
Ahh, err, ‘fraid not.
Most often ‘workers’ occupy the slack time with some wasteful, boring activity. Often, they interfere with other workers.
You see, you must be active, you must be ‘working.’ After all, it is your ‘occupation’ right? Thus you must be occupied, because you are a worker, not someone who achieve prosperous outcomes.
Ask most people if they would like to work less. Many will say yes, but most mean no. Seems people prefer lower productivity, premature death, dysfunctional families, and so forth, also long as they are ‘working.’ It’s illogical. It’s dumb.
For example, Google’s Page and Brin want you to work less. They were instantly and soundly chastised as apostates and blasphemers. Go figure.
Will the future of work buffoons ever claim their goal is to have people work less and enjoying an increasing standard of living, health and happiness? Ha! Absolutely not.
For another example, for so-called ‘work,’ the customary exchange is a certain compensation. Well, let’s see, according to the dictionary, compensation is something offered for ‘pain, loss, injury, suffering.‘ Is that what work is? Is this where we are? Good grief.
Of course this continues on and on and on, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Take-away? Beware the counterfeit notion of ‘future of work,’ its charlatans and minions. It’s a non-starter.