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Work is Going Online

October 12, 2014 0 Comments

In his book, The World is Flat, author Thomas Friedman writes:

Every young American today would be wise to think of himself or herself as competing against every young Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian. In Globalization 1.0, countries had to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. In Globalization 2.0, companies had to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. In Globalization 3.0, individuals have to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. This requires not only a new level of technical skills but also a certain mental flexibility, self-motivation, and psychological mobility.

Futurists – people who write about the future – have been predicting for decades that technology would revolutionize our world. Alvin Toffler became famous writing about the future in his book, Future Shock, first published in 1970. Thomas Friedman is only one of a new generation of futurists talking about how “The Future” is changing everything about our daily lives.

One thing is clear: There are people across this planet who are starving – literally – for the jobs Americans do. With the global connectivity of the Internet, they can now directly compete for those jobs.

The technology that brings you instant communications with people on the other side of the planet also affects the way you earn a living. Because of trends that have been building since the dawn of the new millennium, it is more important than ever before that you adopt an ownership mentality, instead of an employee mentality.

If you do not learn how to own your work and create your own business, you will be swept along by a global tide of change that is transforming the globe. Briefly, there are three forces at work.

FORCE ONE: The Internet Allows the Creation of a Wider and Deeper Talent Pool.

If a business needs to hire someone to create a website, to do their bookkeeping, or create a video, they are not limited to the people that live within driving distance of their business. Companies like connect people world wide with project based assignments. As of the third quarter of 2012, nearly 2.5 million people used Odesk to connect them with employers in need of talent. While contractors using odesk span the globe, the trend toward online work is quickly catching on in the United States. According to Infoweek Magazine: “By 2020, one in three people will work online as opposed to in an office.”

FORCE TWO: Technology Facilitates the Standardization of Work Processes.

As computers and software have evolved, we have moved steadily from having multiple people perform a variety of tasks in order to produce a product, to more and more functions being done by either one, or a few, individuals. In the early 2000s, companies realized that having a team of IT professionals that could constantly upgrade computers and software was very expensive. To reduce the need – and therefore the cost – of having to hire a staff of highly skilled IT professionals, companies offered to provide the software application over the internet. Called Applications Service Providers, they sold a subscription based service where all you had to do was log in over the Internet and “talk” to their computers from your computer. They worried about upgrading the software and the hardware needed to do the work. You just needed an Internet connection. As this “Cloud Computing” continues to expand globally, operating procedures are standardized, and the unit cost of production is held down.

FORCE THREE: Competition Drives Companies Toward Leaner, More Efficient Operations.

As companies in the United States seek to remain profitable in the face of a wave of new regulations, they are looking for low cost solutions. In some cases, companies are reducing the number of employees they have, reducing the number of hours they work, or both, in order to avoid mandatory “triggers” to provide health care and other benefits. It may mean that they contract additional work to people through temporary staffing agencies or online companies like Odesk. Bersin by Deloitte recently promoted a webinar to HR professionals talking about how to prepare for the coming shift in how companies hire and retain valued talent. They wrote:

54% of companies are highly concerned about their global leadership pipelines. Driven by social technologies, organizations have become highly flattened and it is now estimated that as many as 40% of all employees work part time or on a contract basis. Business speed requires agility, and in order to create organizational agility the people strategies must be right.

Did you see that? 40% of all employees will work either part time, or on a contract basis. If you work on a contract basis, that means that you will be self employed. And, if you hope to remain an employee, there’s a high probability that you won’t be able to get a full time job. That means no employer provided health care, vacation, or retirement benefits.

It means that you will need to figure out how you can earn a living in this new Generation Self Employed economy. To return to what Thomas Friedman had to say about this in The World is Flat, he writes that: “In sum, it was never good to be mediocre in your job, but in a world of walls, mediocrity could still earn you a decent wage. … In a flat world, your really do not want to be mediocre or lack any passion for what you do.” He then imagines a conversation he might have with his own daughters about the reality of the world in which he lives. He concludes by saying the following:

“Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner – people in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework – people in China and Indiana are starving for your jobs.” And in a flat world, they can have them, because in a flat world there is no such thing as an American job. There is just a job, and in more cases than ever before it will go to the best, smartest, most productive, or cheapest worker – wherever he or she resides.

To succeed in this emerging global economy, you will need to develop an ownership mindset – instead of an employee mindset.

Can you? Will you?

We’re not just talking about becoming more technology savvy. It will require greater mental flexibility, becoming self-motivated instead of waiting for someone else to give us instructions. And, it will require a higher degree of psychological flexibility.

Answering the question about what type of person you are – someone who makes things happen, watches things happen, or says “what happened” – is up to you. But don’t take too long to decide, else the changing global economy may make your choices for you.

This bog post is based on lesson two of the Udemy Course, Why Have a Business. CLICK HERE to take the course for just$20. You can share the coupon code “just$20” with people you think might be interested.

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