Independence, Mobility and Speed: The New Work Rules

"The speed at which we discover new ways to save labour force exceeds the speed at which we discover new ways to use that labour force." John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

The Economy of tomorrow will be similar to that of our ancestors. We will re-appropriate our production tools and once again become our own bosses. Smartphone, internet connection and Facebook or Google advertising agencies are the hammer, the scythe or the milking horse of the 21st century.

New forms of work are being created at an exponential rate. The number of individual companies or start-ups is increasing every year. New workers are adopting innovative lifestyles. These workers want to control their time and place of work but also to build different relationships with their colleagues. This new paradigm will lead to a removal of the vertical relationship, to return to a more horizontal and collaborative model.

A new paradigm: skills mobility

Innosight, the consulting firm created by Clayton Christensen, estimates that 75% of companies listed on the S&P 500 will have disappeared by 2027. This estimate is based on the life expectancy of these societies, which has risen from 61 years in 1958 to 18 years today.

John Chambers (Cisco) said that 90% of large companies will experience a major financial crisis in the next 15 years and only 10% of them will survive.

In this climate of economic revolution and perpetual creative destruction, the company's influence on individuals will be drastically reduced. Projects will be at the centre of the economy. Workers will thus be aggregated from project to project.

One-day alliances may not be the same next days. The ability to move faster without constraint will be a necessary condition for the survival of people's work. It will be necessary to be fast and agile, to build the best network and to be able to quickly set up new working groups. In short, the project will be guided by several mini-companies made up of a single individual or a small group of people.

Speed should be the driving force behind every project. The productive dynamics will be set up around a star schema. The project will be the focus of attention and all around will be grafted with the skills necessary for its success. The company will bring together, on a case-by-case basis, teams of experts in their field, in the same way as film studios that form teams to produce and direct a film. Once the project is completed, everyone will take back their place, and the group formed temporarily will no longer exist. Organizations will have fewer employees. The permanent contract will be an obsolete concept and only some very high level workers will become partners.

New workers will have to be mobile with regard to the projects submitted to them but also in the way they occupy the new workspaces.

Evolution of practices: flexibility

In 2012, the Colombian government encouraged companies to allow their employees to work remotely, to face the monster traffic jams in Bogota and other major Colombian cities. Tools such as Usetime, developed by a Colombian start-up, allow employers to monitor the progress of their employees remotely.

Self-employed, free and flexible workers will represent between 10.9 and 11.5% of jobs by 2030, an increase of 88%. These new workers would bring an estimated increase in growth between 123 billion euros and 147 billion euros.

This result can be explained in particular by the productivity, cost and time gains generated by these new workspaces. The study took into account not only the productivity gains achieved, but also the savings made by 2030 on travel, which it estimates at 100 million hours.

The long-term well-being of the worker must also be taken into account. He no longer has to spend several hours a day in transport. This allows him to do other activities during the day, and to do a better quality job. It also makes it possible to be more efficient in the long term, not to generate additional stress and to avoid CO2 emissions. This restructuring of the world of work benefits the global environment.

Technology and reindustrialization

Recent years have been marked by numerous relocations that have destructured the industrial fabric of many Western countries in favour of developing countries, mainly in the East and Asia. 3D printing could recreate industries in our. This ease of design, creation and distribution would make it possible to redevelop a local craft industry that had been more or less destroyed during the 21st century.

In 2014, PwC estimated that if 3D printing continued to widespread in developed countries, it would eventually lead to a 41% drop in global cargo air traffic and a 37% drop in maritime activity. The future is no longer about gigantic complexes located in countries with low labour costs, but about small structures installed as close as possible to the end customer.

Coworking: A new kind of association

In this context of economic transformation and a new understanding of work, collaborative work spaces, or "coworkings", have emerged from the ground. Coworkings were born in the fiefdom of capitalism, in the United States, in San Francisco in 2005.

These new-generation workshops bring together craftsmen of a new kind. From web designers, social network specialists to architects and CFO. These spaces promote worker mobility and social partnerships.

In one of its studies, Development Economics examined the economic potential of coworkings in 16 countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States). According to their forecasts, coworking is expected to grow particularly strongly in China (+154%), India (+116%) and the USA (+96%), with lower growth in European countries where it is expected to increase from 57 to 85% depending on the country.

France currently ranks sixth in the world in terms of the number of coworking spaces. According to a study conducted in June 2017 by Bureaux à partager, coworking spaces in France have increased tenfold since 2012. The market for coworking spaces in France grew by 80% between 2016 and 2017. There are already 1,800 spaces in France. The average price of a workstation in Paris is 313€ for an open space and 698€ for a closed office. By using collaborative workspaces, cost savings would be 30 to 50% compared to traditional offices.

Major operators are taking a very close interest in this new phenomenon, which analysts say is not about to run out of steam. After launching its Nextdoor brand at the end of 2014, Bouygues Immobilier joined forces with AccorHotels, which became its 50/50 partner in the summer of 2017, to launch 80 collaborative workspaces by 2022 throughout Europe. Companies that develop these services such as Nextdoor, Morning Coworking, Spaces, Hub-Grade, Deskeao, Bureaux À Partager, The Bureau, or traditional real estate companies such as Foncière des Régions or Icade, are moving up a gear.

By 2022, Foncière des Régions aims to provide 70,000 m2 of flexible spaces and coworking facilities designed using hotel codes. All are descendants of the American giant Wework, created in 2010, which offers more than 260 spaces around the world and is valued at several tens of billions of dollars.

Coworking promotes the personalization of work

Coworking is a flexible system. The schedules are not pre-established and everyone can optimize their working time as much as possible. Generally, in this type of structure, everyone is their own boss. It is possible to spend your days there, or few hours on an episodic basis.

The occupation of the workspace is individualized and its use is à la carte. There are annual and monthly subscriptions, but also access for a day or half-day. It is also possible to book isolated offices or real meeting or conference rooms when necessary.

The functioning inside a coworking system is very similar to a traditional society. Nevertheless, each individual is empowered. Each individuals who make up the social core of coworking is an entrepreneur.

A more inclusive work lifestyle transformation

This explosion in coworking demand is correlated with the need to change workers' lifestyles. Several studies have focused on the factors that contribute to workers' well-being in their environment.

A Nextdoor-OpinionWay study on the importance that workers attach to workspaces was conducted with 800 workers. At the top of the dimensions considered fundamental to their well-being are:

  • spaces open to the outside (75%),

  • involvement in workplace design (55%)

  • nap areas (52%), relaxation areas (52%)

  • garden (30%)

  • friendly and relaxed atmosphere in office spaces (29%)

At first sight, these figures may reveal fanciful desires and by no means in adequacy with our current living environment. However, while our environment has changed considerably over the past 200 years, this is not the case for our biology. In general, our ancestors were not urban. They lived in the countryside, in a rural setting where work and living conditions could be difficult. But, the environment was vegetal and the working day was punctuated by the daily cycle of the sun. Our lifestyle change was abrupt. We are not yet psychologically and physiologically adapted to the new urban rhythms that generate permanent daily stress and to living areas that are devoid of plants.

The burn-out phenomena probably stem from this biological inability of our mind to live in a state of anguish and permanent tension. The brain may suffer temporary stress peaks, but not in a recurrent way.

By regaining a way of life that is more adapted to their biological needs, new workers are getting closer to the way of life of their ancestors. A rhythm of life that has been adopted by thousands of generations before us. A more flexible and less rigid tempo based on natural cycles.

A different management of the work structure

Collaborative workspaces promote time management and allow work sequences to be distinguished from personal time. Coworking allows you to separate work and personal life. Coworking is the field, the barn or the workshop of the 21st century.

Coworking also makes it possible not to isolate oneself and to develop a professional network and possibly to promote commercial opportunities. These spaces allow you to meet many people from different backgrounds, sometimes with unusual backgrounds. It is also possible to meet people working in other complementary and interesting fields of activity in order to achieve synergies.

Coworking areas have the particularity of creating a hybrid social fabric, very different from what we have experienced over the past hundred years. It is a new type of forum, where people talk, meet and exchange. They help to build strong relationships and find new partners.

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Hamann & Benson 


Hamann and Benson 1957 LLC

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