What will the workplace look like 10 years from now? Will everyone work on his or her own schedules and projects, or will large corporate players decide every aspect of our lives?
It’s hard to tell, because there is ample evidence in today’s world suggesting both prospects.
On one hand, success stories like WeWork and Uber have shown that the gig economy is booming so quickly that the notion of permanent employment will soon be history; on the other hand, however, small companies are increasingly being consolidated into a few large ones (just look at the acquisition history of Facebook, SoftBank and Walmart). Does that mean we will find ourselves all working for the same employer in the end?
Predicting the future is usually futile but still important so we can *try* to prepare for what’s coming.
In an effort to help with that, a recent study by consulting firm PwC and the University of Oxford narrowed countless variables that will shape the future workplace down to just two axes: fragmentation vs. integration (will large companies dominate, or will many small ones co-exist?) and collectivism vs. individualism (will “me first” prevail, or will societies work together through a sense of collective responsibility?).
The two axes will therefore divide the future into four possible scenarios, which PwC color-coded into red, yellow, green and blue.
(You can take a personality quiz here to find out which world you belong in.)
The Red World: Individualism + Fragmentation
“The red world” is the gig economy going to extremes, in which “organizations and individuals race to give consumers what they want” and “innovation outpaces regulation,” the report summarized. Expect more entrepreneurs, bizarre inventions, flexible-hour workers and baffled regulators. By 2030, the number for “permanent employment” in the U.S. will drop to nine percent, PwC predicted.
Celeb Who Will Love This World: Mark Zuckerberg (and most of his Silicon Valley friends)
The Yellow World: Collectivism + Fragmentation
“The yellow world” is basically “the red world” with a moral conscience.
The business landscape will be powered by entrepreneurship and innovation, but not driven entirely by profit. Ethical fairness and community values will come before investment return and growth. It will be an ideal place for “artisans, makers and ‘new Worker Guilds,’” according to PwC. “Humanness is highly valued.”
Celeb Who Will Love This World: Jim Carrey
The Green World: Collectivism + Integration
Due to its high level of integration, “the green world” will be dominated by established companies rather than entrepreneurs. However, like “the yellow world,” social responsibilities will play a crucial role in business decisions.
Human workers will remain the dominant force in material production so as to set moral standards. A hypothetical social movement like “Stop the Bots” will attract millions of followers in this scenario, and, in 2030, governments will likely introduce a bill banning all companies from using petrol and diesel vehicles, PwC predicted.
Celeb Who Will Love This World: Jamie Dimon
The Blue World: Individualism + Integration
Lastly, “the blue world,” also dominated by large companies rather than small ones, will bear striking similarities to the early stages of capitalism which history has seen before.
It will feature continuing economic competition between the U.S. and the rest of the world.
“The net worth of the top one percent of Chinese households overtakes that of the top one percent of U.S. households for the first time” by 2020, the report predicted, and, by 2030, “India’s largest tech company will announce a 24 percent increase in annual revenue, largely attributed to its introduction of cognitive-enhancing drugs for its workforce.”
Celeb Who Will Love This World: Jack Ma