What is the future of making money

he era of secure full-time employment is over. Sleeves, time cards and lifelong security are no longer the hallmarks of "work". Other images of what we associate with this term are slowly gaining ground. Working is becoming more and more independent acting, planning and conceiving outside of fixed office hours and buildings.

The upheavals are enormous and create a lot of uncertainty. Because while the "old work" is dwindling, which is unmistakably lamented and turning from an abstract to the personal experience of many people, the contours of the "new work" are still unclear. The change in the work landscape has arrived in the middle of society. Only marginalized groups are no longer affected by (temporary) unemployment and the need for personal reorientation. How we will work in the future has become a fundamental issue for the state, companies and every individual.

What does work actually mean to us? For most people, it is about much more than the daily chore we use to earn our monthly paycheck. Even if there is a lot of whining and complaining about the job, it gives most people a piece of life meaning. After all, work ensures status, a clearly defined identity in the social fabric and, last but not least, regular social contacts. In addition, it structures the time of day and life and even serves some for self-realization.

While most of these functions often remain unconscious and work is seen only as a means of making money, the importance of the listed functions quickly becomes clear when people fall out of the system. For many people, the dream of a free, unbound life suddenly bursts like a soap bubble as soon as the supportive corset of a full-time job falls away and they have to organize themselves.

If work is more than just a source of income, it holds new challenges in store for society: For those who do not have wage labor - and the number will constantly increase - not only must financial security systems be available, but it also applies to the design of a meaningful one and to support life integrated into society.

The labor market of the future is divided
Our society is aging so much in the long term that even high levels of immigration will not be able to solve the problem of labor shortages. In purely mathematical terms, this will reduce unemployment in the future, but this only sounds superficially like good news, as divided labor markets are emerging: While in some industries, regions and professions the supply will continue to exceed the demand for labor and unemployment will even increase, other labor sub-markets will be empty. The demand for skilled and well-educated people will increase, while unskilled workers will find it harder to find work.

The knowledge society places new demands on the workforce. Thinking and coordinating work increases, the knowledge worker displaces the manual worker. Automation makes many manual activities obsolete. This leads to changed job and requirement profiles.

Life-long employment has died out
Breaks and discontinuities in the curriculum vitae are the norm. There will hardly be any more secure, lifelong full-time jobs. Self-employment, freelance project work, temporary unemployment or several jobs at the same time: this is becoming a daily reality for most people. The dependency associated with work in the industrial age is replaced by self-determination. New forms of employment will emerge, which will primarily be characterized by self-employment.

There are first signs to prove this development: The number of self-employed is rising steadily and the number of full-time employees is falling. The discussion about the so-called »precariat« is also an indication of this development. This form of work is precarious only with the ideal of full-time employment in mind. Since these ideas will remain an illusion, business and society are called upon to provide support for those who can barely make ends meet with temporary jobs, part-time positions or self-employment. The framework conditions for the “new job” have not yet been created and the gap between well-paid full-time jobs and relatively insecure working relationships must slowly be closed.

The job market is becoming global
The world is networked and it is impossible today to discuss the future of work in Germany without taking a look at the whole world. Globalization and increased liberalization of economic and social policy are contributing to the emergence of a global labor market. More and more jobs are being done regardless of location. Globalization does not stop at the labor markets, but quickly reaches its limits where personal customer contact is essential.

The national boundaries of the labor markets will not be softened overnight. Although media hysterics suggested otherwise: the proportion of jobs outsourced abroad actually only affects a very small fraction of jobs. The question of which tasks should be carried out within the framework of the international division of labor and which should be exported must also be answered. For states that are committed to the knowledge society, it makes perfect sense and is productive to outsource "simple" activities. The western industrialized nations cannot compete with China when it comes to producing cheap, mass-produced products. Once developed countries have understood the importance of investing in education, the outsourcing of activities to low-wage countries no longer needs to create horror scenarios.

The most important resource of the future: creativity
The industrial age is slowly but surely coming to an end. The manufacturing industry is steadily losing importance in favor of the service sector. The so-called tertiarization of the economy - i.e. the change from an agricultural to an industrial economy to a service society - has been discussed for years, but is far from over. In addition, a structural change is taking place within the service sector. Services that are provided in connection with the production of goods are becoming less important while purely knowledge-based services are expanding. A "creative sector" is emerging. The main thing is that we work differently than ever before. Work is increasingly seen as solving problems. For our work, this means above all that rigid job descriptions and job definitions will dissolve. Project work will become the norm. Ordered hierarchies are being replaced by apparently chaotic structures.

The most important rule of the game in the creative industry is then: there are no rules that can be learned or worked through. The work of the future will therefore place completely new demands on us: we have to master the handling of uncertainty, we must not be afraid of experimenting and trying things out, and for all of this, the rules and framework conditions have to be recorded and defined again and again.

Creativity also plays an important role in another context. In our society, the fear of outsourcing and automation is a job killer. More and more complex jobs are being outsourced. The internet enables the global division of labor. Automation is also affecting more and more functions. More and more often we are facing machines where we used to receive personal service. Here, too, technology is paving the way: The Internet guarantees 24⁄7 availability for online banking, for example, whereas we were previously tied to bank opening hours.

Instead of complaining about the destruction of jobs through outsourcing and automation, we should not ignore the fact that jobs are changing and moving into areas that are less easy to outsource and automate. Creative knowledge jobs in the areas of research, product development and design can be outsourced or automated relatively poorly.

In the transition from the agrarian economy via the industrial economy to the service and knowledge society, the complexity of the environment increases and companies show appropriate reactions to cope with the increasingly demanding external conditions. The complexity of the environment requires flexible action, standard processes are no longer a suitable tool. Access to information is constantly increasing, our options are expanding, and as a result, the world of work is constantly becoming more differentiated.

Only variety can absorb variety, says cyberneticist Ross Ashby. In most situations today there are different possible answers. The multitude of possible answers makes a system complex. The more complex the world "outside" becomes, the more complex it has to become in the company "inside". More than before, diversity in the internal structure of companies must not only be accepted, but also cultivated.

Our work culture will therefore have to change! Well-known trends such as the increasing globalization of the labor market, the aging of society and the advancing tertiarization will no longer only be reflected in statistics, but will become noticeable for each individual. The next decades will be determined by a new quality of work and with the "new work" other values ​​and structures will move into our society.