“If we all worked “smarter, we won’t have to work longer.” – Branson
More and more we are beginning to see technological advances reaching a point that machines will be able to do many of the tasks humans are doing now. In other words, robots will take over a lot of people’s jobs. Several well-known businessmen have been talking about this. Google’s Larry Page and many others like him, for example, admit that the amount of jobs available for people is going to decrease as technology progresses.
British billionaire Richard Branson is another one. But he’s coming at it from another perspective. He speculates that since all the work that’s needed to be done will be taken care of by robots, we won’t have to do it, and therefore we’ll have more free time to do whatever else we want to do with our lives. The new innovations like self-driving cars, drones, even pilot-less planes (they say) are on the rise and will propel industries forward while reducing our reliance on people power.
“The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is not true,” Larry Page told Vinod Khsola, a billionaire venture capitalist, as quoted by Computerworld in 2014. Well, it definitely won’t be with the help of machines!
The idea of working 5 days a week with 2 days off and a couple of weeks off a year for holidays will become a thing of the past. This standard of how much we have to work that has become ingrained in society will soon be shattered. It was not always this way, the 40 hour work week… and in the near future, it won’t be either. The way we all work is going to change, says Branson.
“I’m lucky in being able to work wherever I am, at any time, and don’t see work and play as separate – it’s all living. I think this will be the case for more and more people in the future.” – Branson
Even though this seems unrealistic, and the idea of robots and other automation taking over the work that everybody does, doesn’t seem good at all, Branson insists it’s a good thing. He explains in his blog:
“If governments and businesses are clever, the advance of technology could actually be really positive for people all over the world. It could help accelerate the marketplace to much smarter working practices. One useful idea is for governments to provide tuition for workers to gain the technical skills needed in the new marketplace, in exchange for public service. We need more creative solutions too.”
No matter what, unemployment rates will be about the same in 20 years, even if the kind of jobs have changed, according to Rob Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation writing in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Monthly Labor Review.
Elon Musk says when robots take your jobs, the government will have to pay your wage in the form of universal basic income — the concept of distributing a basic income to every citizen of a nation. He also approached the issue of working fewer hours from yet another perspective when told an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai back in 2017:
“A lot of people derive meaning from their employment. If you’re not needed, what is the meaning? Do you feel useless?”
There’s no need to feel bad about being able to spend more time with loved ones, more time exploring your passions, more time seeing the world outside of an office, and more time getting fit and healthy! People could eventually take three and even four day weekends according to Branson. They’ll even be paid the same or more for working less time, so they can afford more leisure time.
Bill Gates told FOX Business Network:
“Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point. The purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things. More free time is not a terrible thing.”
In the world today, most people either wish they could work more flexible hours, or they’re already doing it. At Virgin Management they are fully embracing flexible working schedules. They think that companies giving people more options on how, when and where they work will only continue to grow and spread. Most importantly, they believe that if you trust people and treat them as adults, they will repay you by working effectively and efficiently. Because:
“Choice can empower people to make good decisions and feel positive about their workplace, helping to keep great employees and attract new talent. If we all work smarter, we won’t have to work longer.”
Although (unfortunately) as Futurism says, “just because our billionaire overlords think it’s a great [idea] to axe hours and give us more holidays, it’s still pretty unlikely that will happen any time soon.”