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Myth Busted: The 9-to-5 model is destined to the extinction. But there’s plenty of life and work ahead

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Myth Busted: The 9-to-5 model is destined to the extinction. But there’s plenty of life and work ahead

  • 1/3/2018
  • Future of work, Working longer, Skills Building, Lifelong learning, Technical skills, Career pivot / transitions, Culture & Society, Multigenerational workforce

By Stefania Medetti

There’s no more the future of work that used to be. I became the living proof of this statement when an airplane took me some five thousand miles East, far from the fashionable streets of Milan and the job market I knew. I am not a digital nomad in the traditional sense. I’m not a geek, I don’t live out of a backpack and I’m not on the go. But as a freelance journalist, the digitalization has allowed me to relocate in South East Asia, expanding my opportunities. Fast forward eight years, there are a few things that became very clear.

1. Todays pioneers will become the norm

The industrial revolution of the XIX century determined a movement of people from the countryside to the cities, because that’s where the means of productions were concentrated. The digital revolution is operating in the opposite direction, creating for the first time in history the opportunity to leave crowded urban spaces in search of more personalized dimensions. In time, the AI and the robotization will accelerate and widen this trend.

2. Globalization helps the soft economy

Globalization has separated the production from the consumption, but this paradigm doesn’t apply only to the goods — manufactured in the East and used in the West. Some things changed also in the soft economy. In particular, moving in the space translates in more time and even, with the due exceptions, less taxes if you relocate in a country with a friendlier financial system. Compared with my colleagues who remained in the same timezone of their clients, I have six extra hours every morning to work undisturbed by calls and e-mails, to cope with deadlines or to do the things I want to before the editorial board begins its day. Furthermore, living in South East Asia has become a differentiating element and, therefore, a competitive advantage.

3. A smaller world has its fringe benefits

Working outside an organization requires a change of attitude. There are no more HR departments, accounting departments, marketing departments, R&D and board of directors taking care of things. Because you’re are going to wear all these hats (sometimes at the same time), there will be problems to face, solutions to find and setbacks to cope with. But most of all, these experience will create a hands-on mentality that cannot be tough or learned in a lecture. Solving problem after problem becomes the benchmark of one’s ability, together with the ability of learning new skills.

4. Less verticalization implies more contamination

Leaving a company marks the end of the silos. Instead of spending time with colleagues in the same department who do the same things and operate in a pre-determined way, an independent professional works with a wider and unpredictable range of colleagues. The exchange is continuous and more often than not, these new-found colleagues are entrepreneurs themselves. The encounter, along different steps of the journey, demonstrates that success is a work in progress and not at all linear.

5. An extended set of skills is needed

For those who operate outside an organized structure there are also two fundamental relationship variables to master. The first one is with one’s self: spending time alone, far from a traditional working environment, requires coaching skills. As in any career, there are moments of self-doubt, but in this case the answers are not pre-packaged and one must deal with issues while playing at the same time the roles of the doctor and the patient. Most often, the answers to these questions are rooted in one’s values system and it is necessary to periodically refresh one’s “reasons why”. The other side of this coin has to do with the ability to keep meaningful relationships alive and create new bonds with colleagues, clients and like-minded individuals despite the distance.

6. A change of policy must be put in place

The final element is the need for a change of policy from an international and national point of view. With a foreseeable increase of mobility, the workers of the soft economy need to be able to relocate and be part on the long term of the community they decide to join. This is not always possible and easy today, since the visas procedures were designed in a time of short term travelers and not of settlers. The second element has to do with the growth of micro-entrepreneurship and the progressive disappearance of the social security systems put in place during the XX century. Workers of the soft economy must be protected financially against delayed and low compensations. They should be able to benefit of the same fiscal advantages of corporations and new policies should be devised to compensate the sometimes unpredictability of their revenues streams.

This post was originally published on Jan 3, 2019 on Medium.

Stefania Medetti is an expat journalist and creator of The Age Buster (www.theagebuster.com), a project designed to raise awareness and counter ageism one interview at a time.

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