In 1964, the RAND Corporation predicted that we would be breeding intelligent apes to perform manual labor by 2020. In 1959, the US postmaster general predicted that today’s mail would be sent by rockets (email turned out to be a more cost-effective option). In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that continued economic growth over the course of the coming century would reduce the workweek to 15 hours. Nikola Tesla echoed this sentiment in 1935, when he predicted that robots would replace most human labor in the next hundred years.
These and many other predictions about the future of work have not played out exactly as forecast. Yet even amid the hype about life-changing disruptions to how we work, most of us can sense that real shifts are underway.
The pandemic has undoubtedly triggered lasting changes when it comes to work. Many were part of a forced experiment in remote working that has shifted perceptions about such arrangements. Others found themselves in jobs that required them to personally confront the virus on a daily basis just to keep society running. All of us had cause to reflect on what we want our work to look like and what role we want it to play in our lives. According to a Bain & Company survey conducted by Dynata, 58% of workers across 10 major economies feel the pandemic has forced them to rethink the balance between their work and their personal lives.