by Julius WiedemannMar 23, 2021
One common theory is that the better the economy gets; the less people are inclined to be employed. The reason is very simple. When the numbers are good in the economy and people feel confident that they can provide services to more people, that they can expand their activities, and that they can rely on their merits, there is less motivation for people to be attached to only one employer. The world post pandemic will be a different one, for many reasons. One of them is that more people will be working at home and will feel freer to look somewhere else for a better working relationship. If the economy rebounds, and companies allow for more freedom, labour relationships will have to be more flexible. In our current systems, where companies do not think twice about laying off when they are in difficulties, and acknowledging here that they also have a good reasons for that many times, I think it is plausible to say that the working environments will naturally move toward a more open and sincere relationship, will be less about dependence, and more about collaboration.
The concept of remote work from just two years ago has now shifted completely. Whereas business trips were basic activity to run businesses and were responsible for the profits of entire industries such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, and others, remote work now means something completely different. Some studies are estimating that corporate trips will be reduced by 50%. Any recent conversation with a major player in the airline industry in my country reveals that the agony still runs high, for the simple reason that corporate travelling is not picking up, and there is fear that it will never be the same.
In the last decades, most countries have focused their efforts to shift industries from product to service, hoping that they would create a different workforce, less dependent on physical stuff, and more focused on intellectual property and control of assets everywhere, coordinating supply chains globally, but still overseeing their business models, and keeping profits under their wings.
The more global we become the more complex and interdependent societies become. Take storage for example, where companies these days have supplies such as packaging and raw materials for only a couple of days in their warehouses. Instead of building bigger places to store more supplies, they rely on strategically designed logistics, so that there’s constant movement of products without the burden and the risk of generating waste. With that, deliveries and the flow of money are allowed to function in a much more dynamic way. Brands are now inside supermarkets to organise the shelves. They do not own the territory, but they own the trust in a different contract with the seller. They are responsible for their placement. All types of industries have changed their systems in the last decades, implementing more trust and collaboration and relying less on imposing rules of subordination.
Why is the above so important? It is my view, the systems that have now ruled corporate world for a few decades now, where trust is a fundamental piece to make things work, will now be transferred to personal labour relationships. We might have to redesign label rights at the same time that we redesign labour gains. KPIs will become common place. Video conferences will become more efficient. Payments will be more dynamic. Productivity will have to find other ways to match management and compensation schemes.
During the pandemic, the world was stunned by the controlling force of China in medicine supplies. It made a lot of countries realign their industries with their geopolitical fears. Tensions will always exist between a highly interconnected world, where interdependence is a force for good, and more self-reliant and controlled environments, where people can turn their backs if a scenario does not correspond to someone’s expectations.
Countries that have heavily invested in education will be leading the world, for the simple reason that they will be able to organise new types of working relationships. In those countries, workers themselves will make clear that their work is fundamental for running things globally. Expertise, language skills, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and others, depend on better education. The effort to create the next multinational company is nothing compared to just 20 years ago. Whoever has a good idea and good working partnerships will be able to thrive in this new world, globally. And fast.
Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.