The Future of the Workforce

with Sophie Wade

The Future of the Workforce

with Sophie Wade

TF guests sophie wade GTA BW glow style 500x500

A look at the trends that will shape the workplace of the future: flexibility, the expanding 1099 workforce, the Great Resignation, the gig economy, telework, remote collaboration, placeless employment, automation, robotics, the rebound in union membership, breaking social contract. Wither the American Dream? According to Future of Work expert Sophie Wade, humans need more autonomy and empathy in the workplace order to achieve their best. In this episode we explore how technology might make that possible. Follow @asophiewade

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Provoke Media is proud to sponsor produce and support The Futurist podcast. is a global podcast Network and content creation company with the world’s leading fintech podcast and radio show Breaking Banks and of course it’s spin-off podcast breaking Banks Europe breaking Banks Asia Pacific and the Fintech 5, but we also produce the official Finovate podcast Tech on Reg, Emerge Everywhere the podcast of the Financial Health Network and Next-Gen Banker. For information about all our podcasts go to or check out Breaking Banks the world’s number one fintech podcast and radio show.

this week on the futurists Sophie Wade for me the great resignation the biggest piece of that is a mindset shift about work and the changing attitude to work and what work means and the role it has in my life

welcome back you’re listening to the futurists I’m Rob turcic Brett King hi Brett welcome back e-world traveler your battling storms are in North Carolina now yeah I I am it’s a bit wet here in North Carolina today but it’s I’m glad to be home for a few days I head off again on Sunday so um yeah just in town long enough to get a bucket full of that climate change in England yeah exactly and get some shirts cleaned and stuff yeah right on now um this week Our Guest is is Sophie Wade longtime friend of mine personal colleague and an expert in the future Workforce but before we jump into that Brett have you got some news items to share I do indeed so um one of the first pieces of news which is quite interesting we’ve been talking about food scarcity and food production and things like that and um the FDA has approved the first lab-grown meat company for prime time so um lab-grown proteins or sin into meat you know I don’t know what we’re going to call it um you know the synthetic synthetic uh meat it could be an interesting one and already free meat yes that’s absolutely you know a much better um design for from a perspective of um you know climate and so forth in respect to that um of course the other news is as a result of the collapse of block fi or the chapter 11 process for Block fi and um of course our friends at FTX that this is having some flow-on effects and so just on the humorous side one of the side effects of this is that we hear that a number of Miami nightclubs may be going under because they don’t have the crypto Bros paying for all of the uh the alcohol anymore but uh there you go just some some new some humorous news on and half the sports stadiums in the United States have to Rebrand exactly yes um sorry but I don’t have much Sympathy for the coin Bros out there I’m sorry it’s hard to summon for me but we will be going into FTX and the whole crypto contagion uh discussion in a future episode so if you’re interested in that topic we’re definitely going to cover it but this week we’ve got a dear friend long time colleague and an expert on Workforce Innovation her name is Sophie Wade Sophie welcome to the futurists it’s delightful to be here um good to see you again Rob and very nice to meet you Brett nice to meet you so Sophie you have been a Workforce futurist for some time although as we were just saying that term isn’t really doesn’t really resonate necessarily with your client base because people don’t know what the future of Workforce should be or what they should be concerned about tell us a little bit about that like what is it that you actually do and how do you help companies uh so I it was actually somebody else who gave me the title of work futurist which I then accepted because what I realized I was doing was looking at the trends and just talking about the trends and helping people understand where we were going so that they could adapt because it’s not there’s so much that is changing that that needed some facilitation but it’s really looking at the trends it’s not there’s there’s nothing challenging about it really it but it is taking a lot of time and energy to really understand what that means and synthesize what a lot of those Trends are because I my first book I wrote in 2017 and I was looking at the trans Zen and projecting out and that’s basically where we are so it wasn’t it was really I started off in 2011 in workplace flexibility and at that point I was trying to say hey look we can be working in a different way we can be working much more flexibly we have the Technologies now so that was trying to sort of pull a future forward um and I guess then I sort of moved into talking about and advocating for and helping people understand what was coming so yeah that’s a pretty that’s a pretty good way to start the show today because uh this time this concept that the workforce is changing because the workplace is changing the tools that we have are changing so when you started flexell network is that the mission is that the vision of it is to help companies adapt to ever changing circumstances and bring their employees along with them it’s driven by technology the at that time there wasn’t this umbrella term the future of work that’s what I saw that in 2015 so it really was saying well hang on a second there is this ability people already were working flexibly it was much more informal people were teleworking and telecommuting and that was that was the terminology um and it was something that I wanted to do more of because I have two kids and so I wanted more flexibility and then you sort of look at organized it’s the technology that’s affording us that ability to work in in different ways more flexibly be working in places and time at times it makes sense also because of traffic and commuting and all those type of things and so it was really it was was advocating for it and at the beginning I was trying to match up companies with uh people who wanted more flexible jobs which was originally you know helping more women but then you know when I’m looking at it kind of like everybody wants to work flexibly everybody you know should have the right for that it’s not just women and you know who her you know caregivers or you know most a lot of the time for kids and for for parent elderly parents so that’s where it it started then in 2015 I saw this thing called the future worker I was like oh that’s that’s a bigger thing workplace flexibility isn’t is a core piece of it but I I saw how challenging that was going to be and you mean challenging for the companies that you consult to because the for the workers it’s great of course everybody wants more flexibility of course people don’t want to sit in a car and commute if they don’t need to but what I’ve heard from the companies that I work with is managers are getting very frustrated with remote work and they want to see employees at their desks every single day and there’s a great deal of resistance towards that now huge resistance yeah I mean the pandemic sort of showed us that you don’t have to work in an office but there are benefits to you know sort of collaboration in person but um you know it is is this more of a permanent change do you think Sophie sorry I I know Robert asked you you know something previously before as well but you know yeah so the future of work isn’t just about workplace flexibility and and working from home or working from somewhere else and I do typically focus on workplace flexibility because flexibility for fixed site on location shop flow or workers is just as important as it is for knowledge workers who can be working you know from home where where fixed site workers can’t so you know it is something that Peter Drucker in the 1950s talked about the knowledge economy and knowledge workers need more autonomy human beings need more autonomy to be able to do their best work so that’s where that piece of it is focused on but the future of work is really new working environments new and new business uh operational means and different dark Marketplace about developments driven by technology now there is some societal change which is which has uh Gone along in parallel and helped uh help the momentum of the future of work and so far as uh we have many different you know family setups we have people who are retiring later and needing not to leave the workforce completely um and be maybe sort of phase out rather than just you know drop out in retire going from 100 to zero we have families that you know we have 40 percent of families whether uh the woman is the prime or the soul the mother is the Primal or the um Soul Breadwinner so we have more complex societies where more flexibility is necessary in order to sort of uh reduce friction so but management hasn’t changed the management structure hasn’t changed yet and I’d argue that corporations haven’t changed and we’ve in other words the society is changing as you describe technology is making it possible for people to pick and choose when and how they work um but the way the companies are set up they still expect people to show up and say the tools the way they measure kpis and performance or a lot of this is sort of ingrained based around that office structure right yes and yet there are lots of companies that have moved and they’ve been using I mean a lot of my clients over the last pre-pandemic but bitson too um have been pioneering software companies for example who are who have been developing and you know sitting in the marketplace future work facilitating platforms for example um I did a lot of work for work front which is a workflow management they call it project management tools but it was work now they call it workflow management it was bought by Adobe so when you understand how you’re working you can work from anywhere and in fact the companies that we’re using their software were able to Pivot very easily during the pandemic because they actually understood exactly how they were working and then they could they could pay that quickly and and uh you know use the cloud understood like what handoffs were going between whom so the more that we understand how we’re working and who’s working and where they’re working you know working from anywhere and doing things slightly differently and focusing on different things is much much easier to do because what the integration of so much more technology which was uh catalyzed by the pandemic means that the nature of business and particularly the nature of work is very very different it’s much more unpredictable it is no longer a lot of independent singular static predictable kpis that you can project out you know and and business plans you can project out 10 years or five years that like that does not exist in the in the same way at all the nature of work itself is much more networked uh much uh you know closer Horizons having to work doing a lot more teamwork the hbr 2020 November November December 2021 as you said the project economy has arrived um and what that means is people working on non-routine work so the increasing non-routine work over the last 20 years has been extraordinary and also to do with the fact that that we’ve automated a lot of the really boring stuff away and now we have to focus on much more complex work which means that we’re needing to work together and really be collaborating uh in a very very different way that we never had to before so there’s so many aspects to it which has have made work more interesting for for in many ways but also more complex and much more aligned on how we interact as people and that’s why I sort of done a lot of my work is focused on empathy because it’s really about understanding each other that important for management in particular uh that ability to empathize and understand now let me let me zero in I think you did Cover a lot there I want to zero in on one thing that you mentioned because I think it’s a pretty big theme for our show which is automation software automation Workforce automation uh and robot yeah I want to get into this as well this is a big topic it keeps coming up we’ve talked to roboticists so we’ll have more on the show we’ll talk to people who are focused on artificial intelligence these things are viewed as vaguely threatening uh to workers uh though you know in some perspectives they can be superpowers for workers as well one thing that’s certainly true is the more automation we do the more it does affect the jobs that are left for humans to do now I’m bringing all this up because I’m responding to what you just said uh you know the the story of the past let’s say 70 years of scaling multinational corporations and globalization and post World War II or post the you know 1970s if you will uh has been about atomizing jobs so turning jobs into breaking them down breaking the test down to smaller more simple and more repeatable processes and that’s been that’s been possible to employ people but it’s also been made it possible to Outsource the jobs and offshore the jobs and more recently it’s made it possible to automate those jobs the more you can break a job down you know make it simple and repeatable the more easy it is to have a machine eventually do that job or to move that job someplace else are you seeing now there’s a trend against that or away from that or are you saying that we’ve automated so much with such great automation capabilities now that we simply don’t even need to do those jobs so now now workers will need to learn new skills adapt to new positions tell me a little bit about the implications of automation for workers sure so I think it was 2018 or 2019 there was a very interesting McKinsey report which said that for 60 of jobs of 60 of jobs 30 of those jobs were automated automatable away so it wasn’t only 15 of total jobs were automated automatable a way to you know completely disappear so that’s you know a significant number but it’s it’s not that big in comparison to all of them what it what the this percentage of the majority of jobs meant that jobs were changing so they weren’t they weren’t disappearing but they were changing and so this is where we you know the world economic Forum talks about the fact that you know 50 of the workforce needs to be reskilled by 20 by 20 20 35 or something correct so it’s a lot to do with skills the skills we’re using to do our jobs and and what’s necessary what you do see for example in there was a Wall Street Journal article in 2019 which was talking about the graduating class of 2019 and that because a lot of the really simple grunt work has been automated away let’s say in knowledge work that people coming in the new entrance into the labor market were coming in at jobs that were three to four years more sophisticated than what they were needing to do than previously previous generations so it is changing very much the complexity of the work that is left so the really simple boring you know death horrible jobs a lot of that has been automated by machines what is left is more complex integrated team-based Project work we still we have you know looking at the stats there aren’t fewer jobs available there are more jobs available we have you know many more jobs available we have people and talking to someone uh trying to unheim who’s talking about flexibility in the work in in fixed size on on the shop floor he said we’re missing two million Factory workers that we need so the automated automation there absolutely in fact the automation for a lot of most of the research money the r d money that’s gone into automation has been focused on speed and quality it hasn’t actually been on the process side of things which is where much more uh computer power could really facilitate uh improvements for let’s say Factory workers jobs as and and the interest that they have and the the capabilities in the output they can actually produce so it’s okay changing jobs not not taking them away right I understand that um but I think what you just said is really telling it’s um the the focus on automation has been to focus as you mentioned on speed and efficiency if that’s for sure true and cranking up the tempo right we’ve heard that right reports of work productivity is the economic term right well yeah that’s what they say but but there’s some question about whether this does ultimately lead to more productivity or whether it creates more problems than it’s worth uh for instance in Amazon’s warehouses right we’ve heard of people are driven like machines and they’re kept to this clock and they’ve got this human robots yeah the same thing is now happening with delivery drivers right who are who are measured uh Lake machines and they have a certain number of deliveries that they got to do and they can’t take a break and so forth so so one thing that we’re starting to see I think is that this focus on automation um the way it’s changing the jobs for the humans is it’s to turn humans into more robotic in other words it’s not liberating humans the human workers it’s actually turning humans into biological robots in some situations I don’t think that’s the case for a lot of jobs uh now there’s a there’s a big issue happening right now in the United States right so here in the US we have uh we’re on the brink of another supply chain shock but this time it won’t be because of the pandemic it will be because of a Railroad Strike now most people in the United States don’t think much about the railroads because we tend to think everything gets delivered by trucks to our stores particularly those Amazon trucks that are always coming into our houses during the pandemic but the fact is that the fuel and fuel additives that are essential for those trucks is delivered by Rail and actually most of the raw materials for manufacturing a great deal of resources needed for our energy supplies are delivered by Ram almost all the chemicals that are necessary for manufacturing and um much of the chemicals that keep our water clean are delivered by rail so the United States right now you have um for the past many years not just the pandemic preceding the pandemic railroads have been increasing the tempo the pace of work and they’ve been doing that in a few ways one they’ve decreased the number of Crews which means that the crews are less staffed that’s a little bit unsafe that makes it unsafe for the workers sometimes they don’t have a redundancy but the second thing is that they keep the workers uh the crews on standby even on the weekends so they didn’t really have no time to themselves in some respects this is similar to the way Walmart has been scheduling uh their their Workforce as well inside their shops uh forcing them to work nights and weekends and so forth ultimately there has been a rumbling of a strike for many many months and uh Congress has been available to avert the U.S the labor department has been able to avert it there is a deal on the table but of the 12 U.S Union railroad unions four of them now have rejected the deal and it looks like their employees to go on a strike and as we record this episode the U.S Congress is considering how and when to intervene uh they might force a settlement of some sort on to the railroad workers if they do not there will be a strike and that will mean we’ll immediately have supply chain shock and that’ll affect truck deliveries as well as rail deliveries what’s at issue here is sick days the workers are not able to get paid sick leave and during the pandemic issue uh yeah it seems almost almost I mean it’s the US is like the only of the G20 countries that has this issue right sick days in Every Other Nation are paid for what they’re offering is one sick day one paid sick day and and uh and and you can take as many sick days unpaid as you wish but one sick day per year it seems incredibly cruel and it’s actually kind of astounding that a democratic Congress and a Democratic president are going to ram this uh down workers throats how do you respond to that when you talk about the future of work because this is the this is the present of work in the United States It’s a cruel and harsh situation for Laborers yes I think the what we’ve been dealing with in the in the U.S since the 1950s 1960s which was sort of the Golden Era we had a uh the policies the economic policies then really what they were worried that there was going to be a depression and so the the Boost net the economic policies were really created really really um uh enabled an economic boom which has never been seen since and and at the time organizations looked after their employees that was the deal you worked hard you could work long hours you were able to retire you had some kind of a of a retirement nugget you had a pension at the end but you were looked after and you had some job guarantee this was a core component to like the Great American Dream right it has been the case in terms of most countries around the world that that scene as being the sort of the social contract that’s the compensation the overall compensation you work you get something in return but it had many elements to it including you know Health Care pension all those different elements now that has broken down this social contract is broken down particularly in this country to speak to over the last decades and so this is what I see as coming out of the the pandemic where people really looked at work in a very different way and had a sort of some aha moments like oh we can work differently we can live different Lee and we don’t necessarily have to be working every all weekends we don’t have to be you know forced in the office do a lot of epiphanies there was a there was a phrase before the great resignation which was Epiphany quitting um because people having Epiphany about their lives so I think this idea of the social contract and workers rights now I believe it should be business you know what’s good for business and what’s good for workers and I do think the future of work has huge promise when it comes to that but we do need to be really looking at the overall balance between uh what workers are doing and how they’re compensated and how that and the be more of an equilibrium than there has been in the past okay you brought up the great resignation and you’ve talked about the broken social contract these are important topics we’re going to come back to them in the second half of the show but before we do that it’s time for our lightning round this is a series of short questions that Brad is going to ask and you’re gonna have to respond to and then we’ll take a break okay all right here we go so um what was the first science fiction you remember being exposed to as a child on TV or via books um I probably say Star Trek uh but a movie that I really loved was TRON which was obviously much was later on but Tron and I actually did go and see the 20th anniversary re-showing of time very nice and what did you think of Legacy Tron legacy I loved it actually but it was good it was good I mean you know I was like my heart was in the was in the original and what was amazing about when I saw it again was that the computer Graphics stayed up absolutely stood the test of time but the story was too simple yeah true sure all right so um what technology do you think has most changed Humanity

I think some of the possibilities that we’re looking at now in terms of the fusion you know going to the Matrix for example what I love is the idea to sort of download or upload a Total Recall when you can you can be uploading Tech memory and capabilities that I think and nanotechnologies we can be sending uh you know microchips down into us to to be doing repairs and stuff like that I think some of those are some of the most amazing things when we’re sort of fusing technology with with humans kind of scary but uh but very interesting yeah cool um you know of course um you know the the concept of being able to edit your memories you know how how you how will be it how will we be able to trust our memories in that future anyway name a futurist or entrepreneur that has influenced you and why Alvin tockler uh I don’t actually even know remember who gave me the book uh probably 20 years ago or more um third wave and she to shock so third wave if you read third wave it is amazing the guy he wrote it in uh said he unfortunately he died sorry about four years ago now but he wrote it in 1980 I think and it talks about exactly where we are now and it talks about standardization and massification and and scale and all those things and he saw that we were going to get down to the to the you know look being able to focus on the consumer one he talks about flexi time this is in the 1970s so extraordinary reading that book and then Future Shop which is about our human inability to deal with that much change which is also where we are now yeah absolutely and the last one um what do you think is the best prediction that an entrepreneur futurist or science fiction um brand has ever made about the future oh um maybe you could use the top floor one you know with well he he I mean he really does look at predict so much of I mean all the different elements you know taking the idea of Technology going from this massification which needed scale and capital and then taking everything down to what that means when we can be addressing everything as we are on an individual consumer and an individual employee basis so that that I think is is radical and what it uh he he said and also how because they’re all interrelated but what that means as a system-wide uh change and transformation that is necessary that’s a good illustration of a prediction that influenced your future your own yeah right so you read about that and here you are actually working on things okay let’s roll up uh let’s take a quick break here here stay tuned folks we’re gonna be back in a minute after a commercial break uh for more with Sophie Wade from flexellnetwork and the future of work

provoked media is proud to sponsor produce and support the futurist podcast is a global podcast Network and content creation company with the world’s leading fintech podcast and radio show Breaking Banks and of course it’s spin-off podcast breaking Banks Europe breaking Banks Asia Pacific and the fintech 5. but we also produce the official phenovate podcast Tech on reg emerge everywhere the podcast of the Financial Health Network and next-gen Banker for information about all our podcasts go to or check out breaking Banks the world’s number one fintech podcast and radio show

welcome back to the futurists with your host hosts Brett King and Rob turc Our Guest this week is Sophie Wade who’s talking to us about the future of work but right before that Rob take us through the Deep dive

okay here we go for this week’s deep dive I’m going to talk a little bit about the great resignation we’ve all heard this term um actually began in China during the pandemic what they call the great lie down in China and it was actually uh prohibited to put pictures on on social media in China of workers lying down in the workplace because it was encouraging people to do this kind of quiet resistance to working hard during the pandemic um here in the United States the term we use is quiet quitting that’s not really quitting that’s where people show up for work but they just do what’s in their job description and they’re just not going to hustle do extra work or stay late but what is it what is the the core of this concept of great resignation is the fact that 47 million workers quit their jobs in 2021. uh that’s about um that’s a pretty significant chunk of the workforce and that data comes from the U.S Department of Labor Statistics what’s more is one in five workers 20 of the American Workforce has indicated that they plan to voluntarily quit their job jobs in 2022 that comes from PWC uh one of the drivers of this is that 54 of the people who work in the United States can work remotely more than half the workers in the US can work remotely and of the people who are quitting 49 of them are specialized so there seems to be some evidence here that people with more skills more training we have more bargaining power and we’re going away from collective bargaining a moment ago we were talking about unions now we’re talking about individuals who see that they’ve got some skills and they can negotiate a better deal or better terms or better conditions and they’re doing so which leads us to the rapid rise in the number of Freelancers in the United States there’s a lot of data on this and it’s a very interesting topic to explore I got data from McKinsey upwork and research by Edelman which tells us that in 2017 there were about 57 million people who were freelance workers 2017 57 million that number increased to 65 Million by 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic that was about 30 36 percent of the workforce at that time today the figure is over 70 million workers now bear in mind in the US there’s 164 million workers 70 million of them are freelance but what’s really astounding is that by the end of the decade as we get to 2028. almost all the research I’ve seen suggests that there will be 90 million workers who are freelance self-employed 90 million workers is more than half the workforce of the United States so this is clear Trend uh the average pay for these workers is about 28 dollars per hour which is better than the median income that you can get if you work at a salary job and it’s highly skilled about 51 of the freelance workers have a post postgraduate degree uh and so that’s a pretty significant chunk more than half of them have a postgraduate degree and this sku’s younger uh so 53 of Gen X views freelancing as a long-term career option yeah so to summarize just to wrap up on that it’s uh you know there’s been some doubt whether the great resignation is a thing you know some people have written skeptical articles about that we’ve heard about it uh the facts are quite clear uh unless 47 million resigned in 2021 during the pandemic one out of Five Dot want to resign or intend to resign from their jobs today that’s for a variety of different reasons some people are resigning because they’re older some people are resigning because they need the flexibility some people are going out to start their own business but at the same time we see this trend towards an increasing number of people who are freelance and it’s really quite a quite a surprising percentage of American workers uh rapidly approaching 50 of the workforce Sophie when you hear those figures what are the things you think of when I say that more than half the workforce is going to be freelance in the future so I think linking the freelancing and and the great resignation for me the great resignation the biggest piece of that is a mindset shift about work and the changing attitude to work and what work means and the role it has in my life and so you know in this in the states people sort of naturally work over the weekends and that sort of assume that that that’s something that that can be asked of you without within out any downside and people now are saying how can I set up my working life so that I actually enjoy it but I could actually work for a company that I really like working for but I could have a bit more space or live in a you know tier two tier three City whatever so I think there’s a big Epiphany about and and changing that attitude to work what that also means is what are the employment Arrangements that I might want they’re going to set me up and and particularly for the younger workers gen Z’s and um Millennials too that the side hustle like up to 60 50 so 59 or 61 of Millennials and gen Z’s um respectively have side hustles and part of all of that is the not wanting to be reliant on one client I one employer because I could be fired at a moment’s notice so this idea is what what gives rise to to Freelancers and independent workers which who basically are defined as working more than 15 hours per week freelance is that I have multiple income sources and that gives me some kind of financial cushion so I absolutely see that as rising as a as a response to gen Z particularly with their anxiety and depression because they are so in great in great regard because they are concerned about their their income security so previously you mentioned the the social contract and you mentioned that social contract has been broken let’s be really clear who broke the social contract it’s not the workers it’s the employer exactly the employer is now fire people at will they Outsource at will they downsize it will shut an entire Factory they’ll lay off all the workers in an entire Community if it’s necessary for them to deliver the desired return to their shareholders capitalism yeah shareholder economy now I’m moving more to a stakeholder economy which is also capitalism so it is there’s been a lot of discussion over the last seven years about capitalism 2.0 Adam Smith was designing for developing you know his whole thesis was about developing economies we are now a developed economy and many many great brains have been talking about the fact that we need to reformulate capitalism because it doesn’t for a fully developed mature economy it doesn’t actually work so well right and so this I this culture shift is one that um is not just produced by the pandemic this would have happened in any case right um but this sort of leads to the fact that you know I I think particularly in the 2030s and I know we’ve talked about this on the show previously Rob but you know I I do think there’s going to be the need for corporations to have a social mission right at the heart of what they’re doing rather than just profits and profitability and I think that’s the ultimate extension of this particularly because of climate change and what we’ve seen capitalism do in terms you know and it’s current for in terms of inequality you know and and the driver that the markets being that core driver leads to this big you know um stratification of uh you know the the owners versus the workers right in terms of um wealth distribution so I think part of that underlying element is um you know yes people are changing their work habits because they want that freedom but part of that is pulling back that balance between the rights of the worker or the citizen in the economy versus the rights of Corporations that’s how I perceive it but yes and and corporations it used to be part of Corporations mandate to look after their employees and so that’s right the 1970s and 90s 80s trade unions and you know and collective bargaining yeah I mean the real focus on shareholders and you know short-term profits when you really look to the long term and what’s actually going to be sustainable from a business perspective not even from a climate change but from a business perspective is not hiring foreign workers and now you’ll see more and more gen Z’s looking like I don’t want to go and work for that company again if it’s just going to fire people you know ad hoc because that is not that’s not going to be okay for me I’m going to be freaking out and I won’t be able to be comfortable at work so there is for many different reasons um you know shaken up by the pandemic but not caused by it that there is a shift in terms of how people are reacting to how they’re being treated and I mean that’s a that’s an entirely pragmatic response right if you’re an employer absolutely you look at your employer now and you don’t trust your employer because they might they might change the deal tomorrow you have no guarantee so you want to keep a second option that’s why people have a side hustle and as we see in the data the people with more degrees and more advanced specialty and more skill sets are able to bargain better they’re able to bargain for better working conditions more flexibility work from home and so forth or they can hike out and start their own Animal Control yeah right and that also means that I’m going to really focus on the values of a company that I go and work out because that’s going to give me that’s the best that I can the easiest thing for me to focus on in terms of do I trust that organization you know what kind of values do they have are they going to be transparent with me are they going to help me get a new job because there are companies who do that and then you also have the the way that we’re focusing on skills now because everything’s changing so much that is where it’s very interesting for Freelancers independent workers because they more than anybody have a really good handle on what their skills are because that they have to they have to understand their skills because that’s how they get work so that’s going to help that you know those folks uh increase their their capabilities and um value and and contributions in the workforce because they really have a handle on their skills and they understand where this is going and they can sort of fill in the gaps for companies as they’re trying to prove it but it looks like everybody’s on that track it looks like you know by the end of this decade the majority of workers will have to be that capable you know of explaining what their skills are or differentiating themselves to employers and signaling that out to the marketplace which is really quite an interesting challenge right we’re going from a situation of job security you know when when I was a kid my parents were like go get a job at a big company and and get on a career path right that was the encouragement you got today I don’t think anybody thinks that way because I wouldn’t want that for my kids those jobs don’t exist they don’t have job in security right that’s right absolutely uh so you’re on your own and you have to kind of you know develop your own defenses if you will your own strategy everybody has to be their own employer now you made some distinctions a moment ago and I want to really make sure we get them one is um there’s a difference between the gig economy and a freelancer and an independent worker tell me how you uh parse these distinctions so look these were these terms are used in very different ways but the way that I do look at it is a is and I think it was done by that gigs are seen as being very short-term lots and lots of very a very small short-term projects which is more like sort of a um and maybe maybe Uber Uber yeah where you then you have the 1099 economy which is more the independent independent worker so MBO Partners defines independent worker as being oh independent contractor as being somebody who works more than 15 hours a week so that is their main income Source because a lot of gig economy is additional to something else so if you talk to a lot of Uber drivers they have some other work and they may be doing that uh for for you know to pay off a loan or to you know help their wife through this college that was when I got for the one recently um so it’s additional two it’s not necessarily their main core work so the 10 the 1099 economy is really for me the people who are who are independent that’s their main source of income because they have a very different profile of their work now those workers they’re self-employed 1099 workers they’re vulnerable in another way in the United States which is that they bear the burden of their own health care insurance yes another thing in the U.S right another thing very different there are only uh this is a big driver for the the need to change the National Health Care system and it’s astounding and retirement yeah it’s retirement it’s astounding to me that the independent workers of the freelance economy haven’t organized into a group but this is one of the things I find most interesting about Dao’s the decentralized autonomous organizations is that you can organize them doesn’t have to be a company it doesn’t have to be a for-profit Enterprise it can just be a community but a community with collective bargaining power

well I was just talking to group in Chicago about this and it was interesting one of the representatives there from a major Healthcare Company came up to me afterwards and she said that idea of collective bargaining for free answers is super important for the future of Health Care remember the reason workers don’t leave their jobs even people who hate their jobs right they stay because they have the health care benefits they need them in a way it’s a ball and chain that keeps you chained to a desk that you don’t love because we have the lowest labor mobility in the United States of any industrialized country and it’s because we don’t have Universal Health Care it’s one of the reasons we don’t have Universal Health Care is because it’s a great way for employers to keep people showing up at their jobs yes yes right because it is so expensive and you can get ObamaCare did decouple full-time jobs with Healthcare so it is possible to get it is just ridiculously expensive that’s right that was that was one major step and uh so that’s one one element of it you have had the Freelancers you know for a very very long time which was going in the right direction and um it just you know was trying to survive for very very for a long time without getting the momentum that needed I think now we’re in a different when a different situation um and there are lots of complexities with uh working hiring uh to do with compliance with regard to hiring people particularly in different states um and and how to process that so there are there are companies that are more willing to and less willing to do that but there are also more solutions to to making sure that they don’t step on toes and there’s actually a new law that the Biden demonstration is putting forward to try and help classify more workers and employees I actually don’t think that’s the way to go I do care about workers rights I don’t think it’s the way to go because it is we need instead of going with the W2 or the 1099 we need to have something in the middle and that was actually proposed so Sophie I do want to jump in here a little bit we’re being very U.S Centric right now and yeah in respect to this conversation so um you know what is driving the trend because this is happening as a global thing it’s you know um so it’s not Healthcare that’s that’s a thing there but are we seeing consistency around the trends as to why people are leaving or is there there’s some um you know becoming a freelancer independent is there some um you know something unique that is is in other markets compared with the us or is it is it fairly consistent uh the level of the numbers of Freelancers are lower in other countries you have very much the same Trend but at a lower level in the UK in terms of people who who are taking more freelance route and the and the part of that is is because a big part of it is that uh you know job security has decreased um significantly there too it isn’t as bad as it is here um and there’s also the the desire to have something on the side to be pursuing your passion or to be developing other interests and kind of going okay well I don’t necessarily want to do this the rest of my life let me try something else you have your side hustle and then maybe you move on you take that side hustle then becomes your main hustle um and so there’s more of there’s a when you take away the the walls of work and it stops becoming a place people have a different attitude overall to what work means and how you’re going to do it and why why only one company and and why not be doing two or three things at the same same time that’s kind of like more fun and more interesting which leads you to this network principle right so there’s a notion that’s emerging but it’s kind of murky that eventually right now we talk about a labor Marketplace but getting a break I mean we don’t really have a proper Marketplace for jobs finding a job is still the most Arcane process you submit a resume to some robot that looks at it if it doesn’t have keywords you’re not even qualified for the for an interview right um we don’t have a proper Marketplace or functioning Marketplace but in a network economy it should be possible for people to advertise their micro credentials there should be a way for our resumes to be networked you know and have robots crawl them and find the people who are qualified without them even looking for a job and you’re right the definition of a job the boundaries around a worker getting Taurus such that people can have multiple roles in multiple organizations and again I keep referring to Dallas because that’s my current you know interest but I think that where we’re heading is these flexible organizations that people opt into contribute to but they don’t feel like they’re committed to entire life and they’re not committed to them this I think is important because it’s not just if we if we’re going to now look 20 or 30 years in the future in terms of future work you’re going to have two sort of simultaneously quite interesting issues that really change the way we think about the nature of work the first is AI which is going to lead to large-scale techno unemployment and because we are attacking the process of human learning and human work itself we’ve got the First Technology allows to take essentially any job that you can teach a human to do and now teach it to an AI which we’ve never had disruption at that level in terms of employment like you know everyone talks about the internet but it created more jobs and it destroyed but we don’t you know we’ve never had a technology that can simultaneously disrupt every industry at the same time so there’s that which then leads to a very real question if we’re giving people Ubi because of now um you know the the effects of technology and employment um then what do you do for work when because we all agree that work is a core element of passion of you you know our human life and adds value in that sense but if you no longer have to work to put food on the table and then get health care as an example then how does that change the nature of work itself do you think Sophie well I think first of all we have to move on from the fact that work the the calvinist you know doctrines were that you in order to go to heaven you have you have to suffer in your work and that’s going to take you to heaven I think we can move away from that because that was where that came from and so if we can first of all say we can enjoy our work that changes a lot of Dynamics about how engaged people are and and how sort of we have a different setup for sort of integrating our working lives um and the the that goes together with the Ubi in terms of why there’s been so much resistance to it’s kind of like well people have to work I.E to be good people you know that is a is it necessary for for someone to you know what in our um Society but if we can change that premise then we can look at Ubi in in very different ways and there are have been many examples around the world which have shown that people want to work well they started people on Ubi start their own businesses at like three times the rate of the normal population right right and they’re they’re contributing they want to be involved they want to be creating value so what so how we have defined and look at work is is is changing in extraordinary ways and I think very very uh in very positive ways because you talked about work passion you know work passion being a core value of work there are lots of people who do not have any passion for their work they’re doing horrible jobs um which are you know exhausting and if we can ship those people to be doing different things and you know have have more to be more entertainment I mean the the construct of a 40-hour work week you know it used to be six seven seven days a week 18 hours a day 40 hours a work of work a week was a it was Robert Owen it was 1817 he was a Welsh utopian who came up with this idea of eight hours of work eight hours of leisure eight hours of rest that’s it and it was like you know the best marketing slogan ever at that point went around the world like that’s interesting it’s completely arbitrary yeah yeah four day work weeks whatever whatever well I definitely think the four day work week is yeah but it may not work for some companies because they have to be running the machines or whatever it might be so if we can actually just view design work that’s right for us think about it we don’t have to be working five days a week because otherwise we’re not good people um but really sort of work out what’s right for my family for what I want to do for how I want to provide value okay okay I hear you I love the optimism but but now I have to play the role of the skeptic here so okay fires a little bit because I think um there is a big disparity in our Workforce in the kinds of jobs that are available and it breaks down like this 54 can work remotely that’s the people you’ve been talking about these are people that have the flexibility to design when and where and how they work whether they do it at home or some other third place or at the office but there’s that other group that’s the minority the 40 the 48 or 46 percent that have to show up and where they show up is in factories warehouses Trucking shipping Logistics and Retail and many of these jobs are tedious they’re brutal they’re monotonous they require Focus they require human attention they require actually a fair degree of skill uh they’re not easy to automate in other words if they could have been automated they would have been right the the checkout clerk at the at the Home Depot okay that job’s been automated away now you scan your own Goods basically you work for Home Depot and you’re a customer because you do the task of scanning the at the checkout yourself although that job doesn’t come with any benefits or pay just something we do now to shop at Home Depot and any kind of other store like that The Big Box store unless you’re an Amazon guy which you just walk in get the stuff and walk out and walk out right yeah sure if that works we’ll see how far Amazon gets with that so the question is what about that group what about that group because there are certainly going to be jobs where things have to be lifted and moved and sorted and packed and delivered and shipped and picked and packed and so forth those jobs aren’t going to go away and it’s not likely that we’re gonna have robotics replace that anytime soon just because the actuators aren’t that accurate you can’t pick a grape with a robot right now so there’s a lot of stuff that we can do to be investing in changing the and and updating and upgrading and improving the processes which is where the where the investment has not been focused and talking to the Frontline workers and changing what they’re doing and there’s a really interesting company um called Trulia I think that is doing that and they they’re sort of developing these screens so that somebody who is working on you know catalytic converters has a screen that they can has a touch screen that he can actually manipulate and look and look inside the augmented reality yeah exactly augmented Workforce exactly so so that there are lots of things that we can do to change the reality and the experience for people on the front line there’s also a lot of work there’s a guy called um uh Ricardo semler is a book from the 1980s he took over his his father’s congruent at 21 and tried everything under the sun and it was a huge manufacturing firm in Brazil and he basically said okay for the production workers like you set your quota and then you get it done however you want and they check they shared jobs they change their schedule they work when they when they wanted to work and they even you know they they sort of down they took their salaries down rather than rather than firing people because they were given that freedom to do that there’s incredible amount of autonomy that that uh people on the shop floor can be given they can really change the experience for them in a very positive way and still be very good for business and another another thinking outside the box for example there’s some retailers who are now saying well hang a second if four days a week you have to be in the store the fifth day you could be working from home doing customer service right like let’s schedule let’s think about things differently and people can have different experiences they can have they can have a different experience like the admin part of their job or like a customer service part of that so they can be given some of that so there are lots of things if we start thinking outside the box we can really change the dynamic for everybody okay well we do need to wrap up I’m afraid Sophie because uh we are getting up on time um but I do have one last question for you before we uh we wrap up and this gets back to our core mission of the futurists right which is let’s think big yeah 30 50 years out what do you think will be the or what are you most excited about in terms of this future that’s emerging so what I I would say two things one what I’m most excited about is I really do you know Rob with kind of teasing me in terms of like okay you know that’s very positive I’m truly excited about the possible the the where we’re going which is thinking about each worker individually and helping them do their best work which means aligning them to their skills and strengths of what they enjoyed what they enjoy doing because they’re going to do that the best and adapting to preferences and being able to integrate your life so that it all works better and you actually have a positive experience that’s fantastic there’s other the there’s a lot of messiness I would say between now and you know 20 years out because the other thing that I do really see which is part of this trend towards um the extended talent pool which is companies having a smaller core full-time uh worker Workforce because of Technology because of it the companies needing to Pivot a lot and rather than hiring far and higher and fire having a core group that then there’s a much a sort of a familiar talent pool that they use a lot so they’re giving them lots of regular work but they’re not employees now that if we can give the support and really increase the whether it’s the you know pensions and health care and you know other things that are going to support and that help work freelance workers and independent contractors get mortgages and those type of things so these those are some of like the basics well you know we need to yeah we need to fix that sorry the risk so the risk parameters all of that absolutely all right that’s great that’s pretty positive thank you for your input on that how do people um get in touch with you and keep following you know what you’re doing is a good place I do Post lot I’m still doing on on Twitter a Sophie way but and also my website which is Sophie and if you’re more interested about future work then transforming work is my podcast awesome well uh news just broke Rob um while we’re recording this that it the the the legislation to break the Royal struck is expected to be um to be proceed tomorrow and it will guarantee seven paid six sick days per year for the rail workers so how about that so the issue has been resolved that’s been that’s been it so um so we’ll see how that ends up but uh I noticed I noticed that blockify has joined uh has joined FTX uh exactly clearing bankruptcy while we’re recording this so just to put a button on those two stories that we started with earlier in the show Sophie it’s always a pleasure to see you I’m so thrilled that you are continuing to think creatively about the future of work and and think about empathy in the workplace such a missing ingredient in almost every workplace uh super to hear from you again thanks for joining thanks so much for having me Rob right and uh and Brad really appreciate it so that’s it for this week on the futurist if you enjoyed the show make sure to give us a shout out on social media or tell your friends about it uh you know leave us with a review on your choice of uh where you where you listen to the futurists um and just generally help people help help us to to to get people to find the show we appreciate that but that’s it for this week um certainly we will be back next week where we’ll see you in the future in the future

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