Published on 18th January 2022
“What’s your dream job?” While for kids that question is synonymous with endless possibilities, for many people nowadays it has become a puzzle. For many of us, work has become a burden that we should get rid of as soon as possible in order to enjoy life. People increasingly worry about getting on to a career path that is not fulfilling or meaningful. And this isn’t just a phenomenon among the Millennial generation either. A recent survey undertaken by McKinsey found that 70 percent of US-based employees think that their sense of purpose is defined by their work. And only 18 percent of respondents actually believe that they are getting as much purpose from work as they would like.
It is this evolution that triggered Samuel Durand, a young French graduate, to embark on a journey around the world to explore “the Future of Work”. He came back from his learning expedition with a documentary, “Work in Progress”, which shows how different people have found new ways to get self-fulfillment from work. The trends that he has uncovered are raising a number of questions not only about the place of work in our society, but also about the role of employment services.
As writer and speaker on the evolution of work, Laetitia Vitaud, explains at the start of the documentary, we are witnessing the ‘unbundling’ of work. Since the industrial era, workers have accepted to be subordinated to the authority of management and to engage in certain divisions of labour – however boring they might be – as long as they received a bundle of advantages in exchange (secure employment, regular pay, status to access housing and consumer goods, protection from trade unions, etc.) As deindustrialisation and the digital revolution occurred, so that promise of stability disappeared and people started to question why they should be subordinated in a working relationship if they no longer received an attractive compensation in return.
Workers yearned for more flexibility and trust. It’s the common motivation among all the people that Samuel Durand has interviewed. While not everyone chooses the radical life of the digital nomad who can end up visiting 50 countries over 5 years while still continuing to work, many people opt for freelancing. They wander off the traditional path of salaried work and define their own working conditions. Others choose to live from their passion, turning it from a side hustle into their main source of revenue.
While such forms of work have boomed in recent years, a large majority of workers still choose to work as employees. But they are not giving up on their desire for flexibility either. Companies are starting to understand that they have to adapt to these new expectations if they want to keep attracting talent. One of the companies presented in the documentary has even moved to working with a fully-remote workforce.
As a result of these shifts, career paths have become flexible too. In the future, it won’t be uncommon to see people going back and forth between salaried work, freelancing, entrepreneurship or any other forms of work during the course of their working lives.
The other constant feature in the portraits of the future of work showcased in ‘Work in Progress’ is collaboration. In one way or another, all forms of work re-create a sense of community – whether it is the once-a-year gathering for employees of the fully-remote company or the platform that a freelancer has created to gather other freelancers together and offer clients their combined range of services.
So, the future of work will be collective, with more freedom and more flexibility and it will enable people to find meaning and fulfillment. In this new environment, private employment services more than ever, have a key role to play: providing diverse forms of labour contractual arrangements so that individuals can choose the way in which they want to work; acting as career agents to accompany workers in a world of work that has become more complex and uncertain; or engineering new safety nets to protect workers with hybrid and discontinued professional paths.
In a nutshell: private employment agencies can offer freedom and choice while also delivering on some degree of security and protection!
First published by The Global Recruiter, December 2021