The world around us slowly evolves and adapts on a daily basis, and excitingly this also comes to change the way of how we work. One of the first forms of modern labour management came from the mind of Frederick Taylor, by applying the “scientific management” method. This fairly simple step forward was in itself quite revolutionary at the time. As workers main goal was continued employment, there was no motivation for them to do it as efficiently as possible. Granted this was directed at the industrial factories, it showed a big change in the shift in labour. Taylor believed that workers were solely motivated by money, and divided their tasks up using ‘science’ to make it easy and efficient tasks for each worker. Making it easy for the workers and easy to monitor in order to give a wage more reflective of the work done.
There have been many management theorists that have slowly changed adapted and tweaked Taylors original management method to create more efficiency from their workers. Notable ones include Theory X and Y (basically subdividing workers into 2 categories, blue-collar and white-collar, and having 2 drastically different approaches to managing the 2) and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (realising that human beings are more complex than simple financial gains are the only thing needed for motivation).
Generally, all mentioned above (even though shifting through time) can be summed up as Work 1.0. Work 1.0 is your standard employee which any worker in the majority of the 20th century, who wasn’t self-employed was a company employee. As technology and culture grew further, a new form of employment start to emerge itself, the independent contractor, work 2.0.
But what does all this boring history have to do with me, the ‘modern person’ sitting in 2019? Well as it happens the modern world has another shift in terms of the workforce and how it operates. Work 3.0. As I sit in this busy TableWorks cafe in Hong Kong surrounded by all walks of life working on everything and anything under the sun, after conferring with my boss based in Kennedy Town this morning it starts to become clear. We need not look far to see people who are already using the benefits of technology to become apart of this new workforce. From the Uber driver who brought me here this morning, to the Deliveroo man who fed me and my guests last Friday night, and the Gogo van driver who helped me collect my new couch last month. All of these workers are apart of this shifting dynamic, not quite employees yet not quite independent contractors either.
It even goes beyond that, working in the traditional sense can be expensive for businesses and not very flexible for its workers as well. By shifting to a work 3.0 type model many businesses can see a cut in costs in terms of real estate and staffing, and being virtual, makes it very easy to scale up and down. This new form of employment also makes it much easier for start ups to get a foot in the door, as initial costs can be very minimal in comparison with the classic model. It is also important to understand that not just businesses see the benefits but the employees do as well. With the flexibility of remote working, staff have greater power over choosing when, where and how they work. This flexibility is attractive as it can allow workers to spend more time with family, hobbies and potentially even multiple employers.
How does it all work then?
Well as you may have noticed the success of cafes, traditionally being the ideal hub for this form of worker. But as the number of people working in this modern way grows, the space in which they chose to work from is changing too. As space is limited and expensive in Hong Kong it is not ideal for many of us to have an office, or a decent space to get constructive work done at home and struggling to get a consistent seat at our local Starbucks isn’t a great option either. This has lead to a rise in the number of co-working spaces that are popping up all over town. This is a great solution to many workers and they have done extremely well. However, there are still some among us that this solution is just not ideal, where that is due to the financial costs and commitments or it simply limits our flexibility of the ‘on the go’ lifestyle we lead. For that very reason, we have created TableWorks, trying to keep down the financial costs while still giving customers a flexible place to work wherever your work life takes you.
Work 3.0 is new, it is here and it is both exciting and scary. I think it is best summed up with this quote “We are on the cusp of a sea change in how we view employment. If we manage this shift well, we’ll be creating an engine for economic growth. Mess it up and we’ll stifle a major driver of innovation, business creation, and jobs.” (Forbes, 2015).