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The Future of Work

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One of my friends, a Founder at a FinTech company, recently told me that he was moving offices from Wimbledon to Central London to accommodate the 20 new hires in his startup. The office he and his team will be moving into is part of WeWork spaces and offers such perks as free coffee and beer on tap in their shared kitchen spaces along with a flexible monthly leasing plan.

For those Londoners with startups who have thought office spaces in central London were too expensive, there are quite a few alternatives in London as many businesses have extra space that they want to let:

iHorizon is an accounting firm with space for 20 extra people (£340/ person/ monthly) 

Metail is a fashion startup with space for 15 extra people (£200/person/monthly)

Widegate studio near Liverpool Street is another share workspace with room for 6 more people (£300/per person/monthly) and houses 7 different startups in design, marketing and architecture.

Innovation Wareouse has space for 10 people with £150 per person/monthly. They are a share workspace that caters primarily to solopreneurs and located right in EC1 on top of Smithfield's market.

Cooks Yard in Stepney Green has 16 available spots for £180/per person/monthly and allows people to bring their pets. 

Most of these spaces have lockers, a kitchen and 24 hour access. One of my favourite spaces is Greenwich Innovation Space, where an acquaintance of mine, Julian McCrea, founder of Portal Entertainment was headquartered until he moved to Los Angeles several months ago. Hackney and Silicon Roundabout is getting increasingly crowded and rising in prices, and a great alternative is Greenwich, where a lot of new interesting architecture is being built to cater to small businesses and startups.

With the increasing popularity of shared work spaces in every major city around the world, the Future of Work looks to be catering to the rise of small businesses. One VC who is advising my startup told me that Millenials don't want to work for others, they want to work for themselves, therefore talent retention is getting increasingly competitive and offering a nice equity package to new employees rarely keeps for them more than 2 years. I wonder though, if in the near future, when a majority of the jobs we know today eventually become automated, then what will work actually look like?

Sophie Wade, Founder of Flexcel Network thinks that businesses will increasingly cater to flexible working environments. The 8 hour workday was an invention of the post-Industrial era which promoted the 8 hour work + 8 hour rest + 8 hour sleep work ethic. However, as small businesses are growing, and more and more jobs being automated, the 9-5 work day may no longer apply to the Future of Work.

I can't help but think of Timothy Ferriss' The 4 Hour Work Week, in which he lists the ways he had automated his job so that he didn't have to be in the office everyday. Although he has received a backlash of criticism, his particular philosophy seems to be representative of the movement away from the 9-5 salaryman that had dominated global businesses for the last 50 years and with the advent of telecommuting and AR, perhaps some of his theses might come into play within the next decade.

"The idea of a single education, with a single job, with a single pension is over." -UK policy maker

"Growing desire for a better work-life balance Faced with growing complexity and performance pressures in the work environment, individuals are increasingly seeking a more suitable balance and better boundaries between the requirements of work and private life. A majority (57 per cent) of employees say that the availability of flexible working in their workplace is important to them; this proportion is growing over time and is significantly higher for particular groups including parents, workers with caring responsibilities and the highly qualified. Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000 and have grown up almost entirely in the digital age) will further drive this trend, with 92 per cent identifying flexibility as a top priority when selecting a workplace."

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Another a key implication of this scenario is "Entrpreneurism as a lifestyle": "The desire for more flexibility is not confined to business. Demographic factors, family care responsibilities, and a search for a better work life balance increase individual demands for more flexibility. Individuals pursue “micropreneurial” approaches that offer earnings potential, often alongside more conventional modes of employment."

This suggests that in the future, there will be more methodologies to increase passive revenue sources whilst people spend more time doing things that they love, instead of the mindset that doing things that one loves is not an economically feasible option. In fact, I supported myself for a year and half trading simply US stock options as a hobby, which gave me a significant amount of time to focus on other creative pursuits when I was living in Los Angeles, before I grew tired of the repetition and moved to a different time zone to join an EdTech startup. Having a passive source of income is one of the most important things in having the freedom to do what one wants, but I also think that for many people, such as myself, we also need a purpose in life, and having a community that builds upon that vision is equally important.