The steady acceleration in which technology is advancing is beginning to impact not just how we do our jobs, but the very types of jobs that exist. As robots become more versatile, more capable, and are cheaper to produce, traditional manual jobs are starting to disappear, with one factory in China choosing to replace 90% of its workforce with robots earlier in 2017, almost immediately seeing a 250% increase in production.
Yet, as one form of advancement hastens the disappearance of a traditional workplace, other technologies are helping to fill the void by creating new opportunities, simultaneously challenging traditional notions of how we work.
The internet and mobile technology have not only enabled traditional office workers to work remotely, but are also allowing employers to connect with skilled freelancers more easily from all around the globe. The digitisation of work means employers and their staff no longer need to share the same geographical space, when sending an e-mail or uploading to a website takes less time than walking across an office floor. Equally, as the skill demand moves from manual to technical, more and more are realising the benefit of going freelance, such as flexible working hours.
These benefits aren’t one way, as for traditional businesses it can be far easier to hire a skilled freelancer from human cloud websites, avoiding a long recruitment process, and the benefits a full-time employee is entitled to.
The Lattice Model
Traditionally, businesses have employed a ladder model, with the CEO or Managing Director at the top, middle managers below them, and the bulk of the workforce towards the bottom. While this model is praised for providing structure, with few voices giving the many a business direction, it is notoriously difficult for employees to give feedback to those at the top.
The rise of freelancing and online businesses has required employers to be much more direct and personal with potential collaborators. The huge amount of online competition requires owners to be adaptable and open to constant change, as well as needing to provide employees or freelancers with incentives to work with them. Coupled with the rise of instant messaging tools and web chat, employers and employees often share forums, where ideas for improvements are regularly voiced and encouraged: the lattice model.
As technology continues to impact our culture, with social media and online shopping encouraging us to shift our lives from the physical to the virtual, and with traditional business models morphing into those that allow for the adaptation necessary of the modern working landscape, it brings with it new types of business, like couple or family business and startups. They can find the information they need to start up an online consultancy, without the need to hire an expert. A mother and daughter can use drop-and-drag website builders to build an online webstore within minutes, without having to rent a physical store. And for the price of a few ads or SEO expertise, an online business can compete with a well-established company in the search results.