The Pacific Standard's interesting article What Was the Job? claims 2014 was the year the job broke.
By that they mean 2014 was the year we accepted a re-interpretation of the traditional job's fundamental bargain and "bought in to the push to get us to all work for ourselves rather than each other".
The job was once something we felt we could depend on. A stable relationship, the job created a consistent link between the work we performed and the recompense we received ... THIS PAST YEAR, 2014, was the year the job broke. Or, at least, we accepted a re-interpretation of its fundamental bargain. Businesses—actually massive technological platforms of a size heretofore only attained by government infrastructure—moved to disrupt our concept of the full-time job by encouraging the idea that, on the Internet, we are all working for ourselves rather than each other.
Needless to say, the article does not see this shift as a good thing. Key quote:
The result of this joblessness is a disenfranchised workforce that feels a right to the same benefits it once had but now lacks and does not understand why they are suddenly missing.
Despite seriously disliking this shift, the article more or less accepts it as fait acompli. Their advice is:
As 2015 arrives, everyone else might be wise to seek out local co-working spaces before all the other mini-entrepreneurs beat us to it.
We agree that the social contract associated with traditional employment has changed. We also agree that the shift away from traditional employment means more Americans are being left without the protections and programs needed to be successful and safe in the new economy.
But we're much more optimistic about these changes.
Yes, there will be dislocations. Yes, there will be people who are hurt. And yes, as a society we need to figure out how to make this shift safer and more secure - especially for those most vulnerable to these economic forces.
But the good news -and the reason we are more optimistic - is that both the private and public sectors are working to make working for ourselves safer and more secure.
The private sector in particular is working to make self-employment safer and more secure.
As MBO Partners (an Emergent Research client) points out in their article 2015: The Year an Easier and Safer Self-Employed Workforce comes into Focus:
As businesses continue to augment their workforces with agile pools of non-employee contract talent, an entire industry is emerging to support the needs of this new workforce. Innovative technologies, online work marketplaces, back office support platforms and portable healthcare benefits are making the leap to self-employment a more compelling proposition for many.
We're also seeing signs that governments at all levels are waking up to the growing economic importance of self-employment.
The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare) is one example. By detaching health insurance from employment, it makes it easier and cheaper for the self-employed to be insured.
We expect the next couple of years will see more government programs - particularly from state on local governments - supporting self-employment.
We think the Pacific Standard article makes a great point about the changing nature of work reaching an inflection point. We also agree this shift is fait acompli.
But we also think things will get better and 2015 will be the year when we collectively start fixing new economy employment.