3 Principles for the Future of Work

If you follow Projectline’s work or our blog at all, then you know we are passionate about the Future of Work and the many benefits that it can bring the talented folks in our community—namely more flexibility, choice, and control. You may also know that we think this future greatly benefits our clients, large enterprise organizations, by providing them with more agility through talent on demand and shared resources.

Why do we talk so much about influencing and shaping the future so it’s bright for all? Because a bright future isn’t guaranteed. If we aren’t deliberate about building equity and fairness into our systems, they won’t just magically appear.

Let’s be clear: the efficiency (something I dearly love and seek) promised by automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the connectedness of devices does not automatically lead to a better, more just, and more sustainable world. Just look at the disheartening stories that have come from those trying to make a living on Mechanical Turk.

We must take control of the Future of Work for those who want a better world, and shape it as it grows and expands to create opportunity and better lives for everyone—not just for large corporations or the wealthy investors behind the gig economy.

I’ve outlined three simple principles or concepts that we all might agree on as we architect the future:

  1. Diversity and inclusion: Gig economy technology should be built by diverse teams, including but not limited to race, gender, orientation, ability, and very importantly, class. Looking at the impact of the gig economy through a class lens will encourage companies to solve for wealth disparity, not make it worse. Employers should ensure that their entire workforce is representative of the community in which they work, in both hiring talent AND building talent.
  2. Social good: All companies, and by proxy their products, should have a social good purpose in addition to their financial return promise. I’m really encouraged by the B Corp model and would love to see more people in the start-up community embrace this concept as they consider what companies of the future should look like.
  3. Income: Companies should agree to pay a living wage equivalent (not minimum wage) where they are located, so none of their employees have to rely on government assistance to get by. If they can’t pay a living wage, then they need to rethink their business model and offering. Companies that make millions for their shareholders but don’t pay people (employees, contractors, freelancers) well enough to live without government (tax payer) assistance such as food stamps or rent subsidies should not be acceptable in our future.

These are just three principles in what could be a substantial list of values to hold central as we shape the Future of Work. Projectline will adhere to these values as we conduct our work, but I want to know what others are thinking: can we can find common ground to build shared values into the Fourth Industrial Revolution? I would love to hear from you. Let’s keep the conversation going on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Next we’ll be exploring the global nature of the Future of Work and the inequities in economies, laws, technology, and labor protections—and the possibility for lifting millions out of poverty with just access to the internet. Stay tuned!