Mon, 28 November 2016
Monika Fahlbusch is the Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, a company in the IT management space. BMC Software has over 6,000 employees around the world and the Experience Team has 450 people focused on employee experience. Fahlbusch has a background in both IT and HR in high tech companies for the last 30 years.
What is employee experience? According to Fahlbusch there isn’t a cut and dry answer for what it is; the answer will be different from company to company. This is because it is dependent on the employees in the company and the culture of the company. Fahlbusch says it is important for companies to listen to their employees to find out where the “pain points” are and to find out the breaking points that inhibit productivity and innovation. Listening to employees and asking for where they think the company could improve can seem daunting to executives because they may feel that they have to implement all the ideas or risk letting people down. Fahlbusch says “sometimes you listen and that’s enough, sometimes you listen and learn, and other times you listen and have to make changes immediately”. So listening to employees doesn’t mean you have to implement every single idea, employees like to feel that they have a say and that they are being heard.
There is no doubt the workplace is changing and that the future of work will look different than work today or in the past. Fahlbusch talks about four main areas in which the workplace is changing. One area is the physical workspace. Recently companies have started to move away from a physical space where employees have to report for work all day every weekday. Now companies are allowing employees to have more freedom to work remotely for a majority of time and then have a space where employees can come together once in awhile when they have to collaborate on projects in person.
Another area the workplace is changing is how employees connect to the values of their company. Values are extremely important to the incoming generations such as the Millennials and it is important to them that their company reflects its values in real ways daily in the workplace. Its no longer good enough to say a company value is to “do the right thing”, nowadays you have to be sure your company is showing how to do the right thing, maybe by getting involved in community outreach or by operating in an environmentally responsible way. Other areas where the workplace is changing include the blending of personal and work lives and thinking outside of the organization.
So what does the workplace of the future look like? Some things that Fahlbusch sees happening in the future is a move towards doing work while standing vs. sitting all of the time. She also thinks that physical work spaces will evolve from working in one big office building, to working remotely from any location. She believes companies will be more globally minded, closer to customers, and closer to communities. Fahlbusch hopes that the future of work will include a stronger collaboration between education and tech companies for mutual benefit and that there will be a real impact with information technology in the ways of AI and wellness/health.
When it comes to employee experience Fahlbusch says that while some companies will say they don’t have the budget to impact employee experience, it is a choice. There is a cost, but there is also an opportunity cost for not doing it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you want to be satisfied with the employees you have and the employees you are attracting to your company you can’t afford not to budget for employee experience.
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Mon, 21 November 2016
Teresa Carroll is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Talent Solutions for Kelly Services. Kelly Services is a staffing agency that has been around for 70 years and now it is a $6 Billion company that has 10,000 employees operating in over 40 countries around the world. Carroll, who is actually an engineer in the automotive industry by trade, has worked with Kelly Services for 24 years in several different roles.
Gig/Freelance economy is a huge topic of discussion these days. It seems like the gig/freelance economy is growing daily. Why are we having such a shift away from traditional, full time work? Carroll believes it is due to three key factors. First of all, it is due to demographics. We currently have four generations out in the workforce and as Carroll points out, “2 out of the 4 have clearly stated they don’t want to work full time for the same company”. The two generations she is talking about are the Baby Boomers, who are at retirement age but who don’t want to fully commit to leaving the workforce yet and therefore are doing part-time work, and the Millennials who have grown up with technology since birth.
The second factor that plays into the move from traditional, full time work is technology. The advances in technology have allowed us to get work done in so many different ways using various platforms such as Upwork, Etsy, Uber, etc... It used to be that employees would have to go into the office where they were trained in one specific job, however now you can work from anywhere and jobs are more task driven. And finally, the third factor is psychographic, or how we think and make decisions. Today’s workforce realizes they have certain skills and they are in demand, and therefore they get to work how they want to work.
When looking to figure out the true size of the gig/freelance economy it is hard to pinpoint due to challenges, such as the fact that there are so many different terms for this type of work. People use terms such as Gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, entrepreneurs, etc... However, as Carroll points out, regardless of what name you use it is a fact that one third of today’s workforce does not work full time. According to a study done by Kelly Services, there are 600 million workers in the developing world and out of those workers 115 million work as independent contractors, 50 million are freelancers/business owners, 40 million are temp workers and 30 million are a hybrid of several different types of work.
One thing you cannot deny is that this space is substantial and it is growing all the time. So what does this mean for companies? According to Carroll it means that companies need to continuously educate themselves on trends and they need to be able to adapt to a new type of workforce. We are going to see a move towards employing a mixture of full time, traditional employees as well as gig/freelance workers (depending on the needs of the company). With this shift in workforce it is important for HR and procurement personnel to work together and to sit down together to make a strategic plan. If companies choose to ignore this change they will not be able to attract and retain today’s top talent, and therefore they will stunt the company’s growth.
What does it mean for individuals? Carroll encourages young people who are just entering the workforce to try three types of internships; one with a large company with a well-known name brand, one with a small entrepreneur, and one as an independent contractor in order to get a sense of the different ways to work. She also says it is important for workers to “get a specific skill set and keep adding to it” and to stay educated about business trends and the different ways people are finding work.
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Mon, 14 November 2016
We explore the people strategy Adidas has been implementing with chief HR officer, Karen Parkin, and we talk about how things might be changing in the world of work.
Karen Parkin is the chief HR officer at Adidas, a global sporting goods company headquartered in Germany. Parkin has been with the company for 20 years and with her background in sales she has been able to bring a unique perspective to the company’s new people strategy.
Adidas has been going through a lot of changes including the arrival of a new CEO, which will bring about a change in culture and strategy in itself. Another change that has been taking place is in the company’s people strategy. Adidas understands the importance of evolving with the ever changing world of work and the importance of employee experience and engagement. Parkin says, “to be successful we need the best people sitting in the right seats”, so when they were developing their new people strategy they had four pillars in mind. These four pillars dealt with attracting and retaining people, inspiring role models, fresh and diverse perspectives and creating the right environment for employee talent.
Adidas recognizes that the world of work is changing and they knew they needed to develop a strategy that allowed them to adapt over time. They also feel that diversity in the workplace is very important and that welcoming in the new generations while still respecting the generations that are already in the company is essential. Adidas acknowledges that the competitor landscape has changed and they are no longer just competing with other sporting companies such as Puma or Nike, but they are in competition with all large global companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. As Parkin states, “the war for talent is over”. Companies cannot afford to just sit back and assume people will want to come work for them. In this day and age Companies have to work hard to attract and retain talent.
Adidas traditionally conducted surveys every 2-3 years to look at employee engagement, however they are now bringing the focus to new management and a feedback culture where they can measure the experience employees are having everyday. Parkin brings a fresh look to these measurements as her background is not in HR, but in sales. She believes it is important to measure from a brand perspective, asking employees on a quarterly basis about how likely they would be to refer the company to peers, friends, coworkers and family. Parkin is constantly thinking about what her consumers want, need and think. She believes “people are the heart of the company, and HR is the head”.
Another change Adidas has implemented is “moments that matter”. Parkin believes that in today’s workplace there is no longer a one size fits all model. The experience that one employee has is going to be completely different from someone sitting right next to them. Adidas brought a diverse group of employees into room and HR led an interview process where they asked the employees what moments mattered the most to them. From there Parkin and her team plotted several different employee experiences to see what the key moments would be.
Some key moments that are common across the board to all employees would be the recruitment process and what the first conversation with Adidas looks like. Another key moment would be the first day in a new position. Some moments that matter that are not necessarily common to all people would be someone that wants to take a sabbatical, someone who wants to start a family or someone who wants to leave the company to work for another. All of these moments matter to employees and they are moments that Adidas is focusing in on to make sure they are great, memorable experiences.
While keeping up with the changes in the world of work, It is important to be sure that your company is not just following any and every trend that pops up. Companies should understand their goals, culture and employees and make sure the trends work with their overall big picture before implementing any changes. The key, as Parkin puts it, is for leadership to understand that “people, products and brands matter equally”.
According to Parkin, one of the most fundamental changes in the world of work is that it is “about the people, and it starts with the people”. The new role of HR needs to be the “table where the changes begin and a voice on behalf of the people”; HR is about people.
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Mon, 7 November 2016
Diane Hoskins, the Co-CEO of Gensler explains the importance of workplace design and what organizations can do to improve employee experience, productivity, and innovation.
Diane Hoskins is the Co-CEO of Gensler, which is a global design firm that focuses on creating a better world through the power of design. The company started in San Francisco 50 years ago and they now have about 5,000 employees and 46 offices all over the world. Hoskins has degrees in Architecture and Business.
Over the past 10 years Gensler has been conducting research on workplace design and how it affects productivity, innovation and competitive dynamics. In all of their research they came to the conclusion that workplace design does in fact contribute to innovation and productivity. When Gensler gets an initial call from an organization wanting to update their workplace they start by getting an understanding of what the core needs of the organization are. They have to get a sense of what the organization’s current culture is like, what its values are, and where the company is going in the future. During this process they interview employees, give out surveys, observe day to day activities and collect data in order to best serve the needs of the company. There are no two companies that are exactly the same, so it is important to design a workplace that uniquely fits each one.
One topic in workplace design that has been debated a lot over the past few years is open vs. closed office spaces. Some people think it is better for everyone to have their own offices or cubicles and they believe that meeting spaces should be closed off and private. Others think open workspaces creates a better working atmosphere where people are more creative. Hoskins believes that it is all about a diversity of spaces and giving employees choices in their workplace. She says it is not about choosing either open or closed spaces, but having a mixture of both. For example, an organization could have closed meeting spaces of various sizes, open informal meeting areas with soft seating, and coffee bars and cafes for working and “unplanned chance encounters”. Hoskins says it is all about “unlocking the pathways that allow employees to step out of a routine”.
Business leaders have begun to see that there is a relationship between their workplace design and the performance of their employees and their company as a whole. They can see it in examples such as Airbnb, Facebook, and Etsy. The most innovative companies are not using the office spaces of the past where the whole building had one static floor plan that was built with the job in mind instead of the employee. Now, organizations are realiizing that their workplace needs to be more fluid and adaptable and one that is designed to create an atmosphere where employees can do their best work. Hoskings says ideally companies would be adaptive, making small changes to their workplace all the time to keep up with their employees and the current technology. However, that is not always possible monetarily or physically, so she suggests that companies take a look at their design every 2-4 years to make sure it is the most effective use of the space.
So what do employees want in a workspace? Based on Gensler’s research, the things that employees want are pretty basic and not anything over the top. The four main things that employees want are individual spaces that have a functional layout, adjustability that allows them to adapt their workspace to their current needs (sitting down, standing up, etc..), noise management, and access to the resources they need. After those four basics the next things on the list were food related such as a cafe or a coffee shop. Things that were not high up on the list were the over the top additions such as slides and ping pong tables.
The fact is that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in our work environment and that is why it is so important to have a space we can go to that allows us to feel connected, be productive, and stay focused. This also in turn helps the business because as Hoskins says, “healthy, strong people do great work”.
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Mon, 31 October 2016
Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of G Adventures, the largest adventure company in the world. The company is now 25 years old and today people from 160 countries book trips with G Adventures. He is also the author of Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business and Do Big Small Things.
G Adventures has a very different business model than any other travel company. Most travel companies offer customers a luxurious experience with the modern amenities of home. Today at least 75% of holidays are all inclusive and take place on a cruise ship or at a compound. Poon Tip believes that the travel experience should be different.
Poon Tip believes that if people want the comforts and amenities of home while they travel, then they should probably just stay home. He believes that traveling the world is about the experience of immersing yourself in another culture and truly seeing how other people live. His company not only gives customers an honest experience, but it also benefits locals in countries around the world.
According to Poon Tip traveling is the “greatest form of wealth distribution”. People are always traveling to poor countries, but instead of putting their money into the local government and people they are giving their money to hotel chains and cruise lines. G Adventures remedies this issue. When people travel with G Adventures they are going to have the chance to shop at local vendors, stay in local hotels and eat at local taverns and restaurants in order to build up the local economy.
G Adventures has a lot of different types of trips (over 700 to be exact). One type is local living. It allows people to travel to Africa and stay with a nomadic tribe, travel to Iceland and stay with a local family on their farm, travel and stay with locals in a small village in Italy. They also have projects in various countries that are helping locals achieve a better quality of life. One example of this is a cooking class G Adventures is setting up where travelers can go out and shop at local markets with children from a homeless shelter to get ingredients for the dish they will learn how to make. They can interact with the children and help them learn English. The travelers then go back and learn how to cook a dish with local teachers. Another project is one they are doing in India where they help women who are living out in the street by assisting them in getting a chauffeur’s license so they can make a living by driving travelers around the country. G Adventures wants to change the world and they believe that tourism can be the vehicle for that.
In today’s world people want to feel they have a purpose in their work and companies are starting to evolve to give more meaning to the work their employees do. Companies really can change the world. But who is responsible for creating this purpose at work? Is it the responsibility of the company to create this purpose? Or is it the employee’s responsibility to find this purpose in whatever position they have? The answer is it is a mutual responsibility. Employees should make sure they apply for a company that has values that line up with their own with opportunities to make a difference and employers should be sure to provide these opportunities for their employees.
Poon Tip plans to continue creating opportunities to improve the world through G Adventures. He sees his work more as a movement then just a job and he wants to continue using “tourism as a vehicle to change the world”.
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Sun, 23 October 2016
Natalie Foster, the advisor to the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, discusses the gig economy and our growing need to re-write the norms of how work gets done.
Natalie Foster is the Advisor to the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and the Open Society Foundations. She is a Fellow at the Institute for the Future and New America California and she co-founded and launched Peers.org. Natalie also previously served as digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America and the Democratic National Committee.
In the past it was considered normal for workers to stick with a job at one company for their entire career. Throughout the worker’s time at the company their benefits, such as healthcare, workers compensation, and paid time off was provided by the employer. The employee was taken care of until the time of retirement. Nowadays the gig economy is steadily growing, but where are these independent workers getting their “social safety net” of benefits?
One of the goals of the Aspen Institute is finding a bipartisan solution to support independent workers and to re-think capitalism. They are trying to find a “portable, prorated social safety net” for these workers so that they can have a flexible job while still ensuring they have access to the benefits of traditional employment.
One of the challenges in the freelance economy is our inability to fully comprehend the number of people who are actually working in the alternative work space. One reason for this challenge is the fact that there isn’t one agreed upon definition of this type of work. Just think about how many different titles there are out there for these types of workers. You have gig workers, freelancers, contractors, independent workers, entrepreneurs, etc..
So what do we know about the alternative work space? Upwork did a study that found that 40 million Americans do freelance work. The GAO found that 40% of workers are involved in some sort of alternative work (this includes part time work). Also, the rate of adoption of digital markets has been going up over the past three years.
Foster believes that if we had a choice, most people would probably choose the “American middle class job” that you keep your whole life and retire from. But she says that those types of jobs have gone away for the most part. What we see taking the place of these middle class jobs are large employers such as McDonald’s, Walmart and KFC who offer the lowest wages and very minimum benefits. They also do not give their employees any control over their scheduling and no flexible work options. This is one of the reasons that the alternative work space is growing. People who have traditional jobs can no longer make ends meet and they don’t have the flexibility they desire.
In our move towards an alternative work economy we have to be able to re-write some of the norms to help independent workers get the same support as traditional employment. Foster talks about the changes we made in the work economy when we moved from an agricultural society to an industrial one. Things like the 8 hour workday, paid vacation, and not working on weekends were all things that were not in place when we worked in the fields. Now we are going through another shift so we have to figure out how to create a new set of norms.
The solution is to find a way to extend the “safety net” we have in traditional workplaces and offer it to the 40% of workers in the alternative workspace. Foster says there is already a model that is being tested by the New York BlackCar Service where there is an extra 2 ½% added to all payments that goes into a fund the company has in order to provide workers compensation to all of their drivers. Perhaps the same type of model could be incorporated into platforms such as TaskRabbit or Upwork where a percentage of purchases are put into a company wide fund in order to provide health insurance, paid time off, or sick days for their workers. Uber is also taking a step forward by accepting an independent drivers guild in New York that they will start using next year.
Foster also mentioned that over the last 40 years our GDP has gone up and up but our wages have been going down and down. She believes there could be a way that everyone could share in this value that we as a country are creating. The alternative work space is growing, so it is important for us to find ways to supplement benefits that in the past have been provided by traditional employment. This move forward will take a change in policies, an acknowledgment of this change in our economy and a step forward by employers.
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Sun, 16 October 2016
Karyn Twaronite, the Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Officer at EY talks about the importance of having a diverse organization, how to measure diversity in your company, and what steps you can take to move forward in this space.
Karyn Twaronite is the Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Officer at EY, formerly Ernst and Young. EY provides auditing, accounting, tax, due diligence, mergers and acquisitions and advisory services to companies of all sizes around the world. They have 230,000+ employees in over 150 countries. One thing that makes EY unique is that two thirds of their employee population are members of Gen Y.
Twaronite’s role at EY is really about helping the company to appreciate the unique differences and talents of all their employees in over 150 countries. She and her team help EY learn how to allow teams to best leverage those differences in order to create higher performing teams who can provide the best client service, innovations and creative problem solving techniques. This process doesn’t just stay in the talent department. Inclusiveness and diversity affects client relations, human resources, quality of service and market/brand recognition.
How does EY make sure that their team is diverse and inclusive? As Twwaronite mentions, diversity and inclusiveness in itself is very simple, however it is made into a complicated issue due to our human nature. EY has locations all across the world and so they deal with all different types of mindsets when it comes to the subject of diversity. Some countries are more open and excited about it than others. Overall, EY takes a look at their company as a whole with studies, surveys, discussions and data to find where they have gaps in areas where they could be doing better. Once they find those areas it is important for them to implement change from the top of the company down. Twaronite says at EY benefits are for everyone, not just some people. They go to great lengths to make sure they look at not just the typical subjects of diversity such as gender and nationality, but also areas such as educational experiences and differing areas of expertise.
When looking at diversity programs Twaronite says there are 3 Cs, compliance, character, and commerce. When diversity programs first started it was all about compliance. Companies were focused solely on numbers, and while that is still important to look at, it cannot be the full picture. The second C is character. It is important for your company to take at look at itself and figure out if diversity and inclusion is something you care about and believe in. This step is very important, but again it is not the full picture. The third C is commerce and it is something that is fairly newer. It is being able to look at diversity in how it impacts your topline and bottom line. How are you attracting talent, are you attracting diverse talent, do you have representation of a lot of countries around the world? This is not only important in regards to employee experience, but also in the way of quality of service for clients. Clients nowadays are looking for diversity in teams. EY has noticed that clients pay attention to the diversity of their teams and they have several examples of how their diversity has won clients over.
How can your company measure diversity? There are several ways, but one of the most valuable things you can do is have your employees talk about themselves and their past experiences. Sometimes a team that looks homogeneous may be more diverse than you think. It is also important to conduct surveys, look at trends in your market, and keep track of data analytics.
There is still a long way for us to go globally to make improvements in the way of diversity and inclusion. There was a study done in February that was sponsored by EY where 22,000 companies from 90 different countries were studied and two major things were determined. First of all they found that 50% of these companies had no women in management positions. Secondly, they found that companies with management teams made up of 30% or more of women had 6%+ more net margin.
The problem is that as humans we have biases and preferences and moving past these can be very difficult. Learning to work with a diverse team of people who have different mindsets, backgrounds, and experiences can make the process longer and trickier. Also, not all companies have the awareness and education needed to understand how to put diverse teams in place. But companies need to realize that the results are far more successful than with homogeneous teams.
When you implement diversity and inclusion into your company you improve employee experience. Employees are more successful when they feel that they can use their unique strengths and skills everyday. Also, when companies are more inclusive their employees feel a sense of belonging which is extremely important in building trust and productiveness.
What steps can companies take to become more inclusive and diverse? Twaronite gives three pieces of advice. First, look outside of yourself. Make sure you look at your industry and market to see what other companies are doing. Find some companies that you admire in this capacity and learn what programs and policies they have in place. Second, look inside of your company. Find some problems within your company that you want to solve. Find the most critical gaps and focus on those. Do you need to improve how your team deals with customer needs? Do you need to better balance out your teams?. Third, use data to measure your growth. Listen to your employees, conduct surveys, pay attention to analytics to make sure you are not just putting a plan into place, but that you are taking action.
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Sun, 9 October 2016
Tom Gilovich is a professor of Psychology at Cornell University with an interest in judgement and decision making. He is also the author of the book, The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology’s Most Powerful Insights. He has studied many different facets of social psychology including sports decisions, political judgement and decision making, and relationship decision making.
What is the difference between wisdom and intelligence? A lot of aspects go into defining wisdom, but in short intelligence is more about being book smart and wisdom is more about being people smart. To have wisdom you have to be knowledgeable about people; why they do what they do and think what they think.
How can this be translated to the workplace? Gilovich discusses what managers normally do when employees are not performing as well as they should be. Most managers try to change the employee’s behaviors by pushing them in the direction the manager wants them to go. They push them with incentives, punishments, or motivation. But Gilovich says most of the time the poor performance isn’t due to a lack of motivation, it’s because the employee has a hard time “translating their good intentions into effective actions”. So instead of pushing, it is important for leaders in the workplace to understand their employees and to find ways to help their employees put their intentions into action.
Another subject that deals with understanding how people think and act is discussed in an article where Gilovich talks about the difference between experiences and material things and how they impact our happiness. He found three things to be true. Experiences connect us to other people more than material goods do, we are less comparative with experiences than with material things, and experiences contribute more to our identity than material things. In the end he found that people get more enduring happiness from experiences than material things.
Could this principle be used in organizations to make employees more happy and content with their jobs? We spend a majority of our time working, and yet it seems that most people become more and more dissatisfied with their jobs as time goes on. Perhaps if we could find a way to make work more of an experience people would enjoy their jobs and their satisfaction would grow over time. But who is responsible for this change, the employee or the employer? Perhaps a little bit of both. It is important for both parties to be a part of this change. Employers should focus on creating a better employee experience, however up to this point the responsibility has been put on the employer alone. It is also up to the employees to change their outlook.
Gilovich gave an example of two janitors working at Nasa, when asked what they do for a living one janitor said “I clean the floors and empty the trash” the other janitor said “I help put people on the moon”. Both janitors were correct, except one looked at the simplistic version of the job whereas the other one looked at the bigger picture. One of these two janitors is going to have a greater sense of purpose and a better employee experience based on their outlook.
Another thing we have to understand is that there are times when we misevaluate things in our lives. Gilovich gives the example of riding a bike. When you are biking and you face the wind you cannot deny it is there; it is in your face and you feel it. However, when you turn around and have it at your back you are grateful for a minute but then you don’t even notice it after awhile. This demonstrates how the things we have to overcome are the things we pay attention to, because we have to. Those hard times in life or the barriers that stand in the way of our happiness, we have to focus and work hard to overcome them. But the things in life that give us “a boost”-- a pay raise or a new car, the good times--those are the things that are easy to forget.
Because we easily forget the good, easy times we have the tendency to look at others (possibly co-workers) and feel that the other people have better lives. We have a tendency to claim life is “unfair” when we see others get raises, promotions, or good things in life.
How can we be the wisest one in the room and put it into practice in the workplace? We spend about 30% of our lives in the workplace, so happiness and fulfillment at work are important. In order to improve the employee experience it is important for both employers and employees to focus on cultivating experience. How can employees have a sense of purpose at work, how can employees and employers connect and form relationships, and how can employees attain more freedom while still performing their job? All of these things play into the big picture of employee experience and how to be the wisest one in the room.
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Sun, 18 September 2016
So in this EM world, what would EMs do? In Hanson’s view they would take over all of the work form the humans. Some EMs would do virtual jobs and some would do physical jobs, therefore they would be able to switch from a physical form to a virtual form in an instant as we are able to get in and out of our car to go somewhere. EMs would live mostly in city centers and interact with each other as humans do.
And what would humans be doing during this time? Well, first they would all have to retire. After EMs are around humans wouldn’t be able to compete for jobs so they would retire to live off of their savings and live a life of leisure. Hanson believes some humans would have money from creating EMs, because in the beginning the people who are the best in their fields would be sought out to scan their brains for EMs earning big money. Later on younger people would most likely be sought out to create EMs as they would be able to learn new things the quickest. Some may also make money from investments or have money saved up. Those who don’t have money at this time probably wouldn’t survive, it would just depend on how areas would take care of each other, divide money, and provide for humans. EMs would most likely run 1,000 times faster than humans so they would evolve much more quickly than humans have. Therefore, the EM Age may only last 1-2 years so in that time humans probably won’t have time to change much.
There are different views that people have when they read about EMs, either they think it is fun and exciting to learn and think about or they think it is crazy or scary or impossible. For people who think it is impossible, Hanson explains that we have had 3 major eras of humans; Foragers, Farmers, and Industry and in each era there has been a sudden change to bring about the next era. So the next era after ours could be the EM Age. People who lived 1,000 years ago would probably think that the innovations we have today are crazy or impossible. Regardless of what the future holds it will still be strange to those of us who are living in the current era.
Hanson’s book touches on several aspects of the EM Age including the basics, organization, economics, sociology and physics. In the way of physics Hanson touches on things such as the relationship between the body size and mind speed of EMs as well as the energy and cooling usage that the EMs would need.
In the section on economics Hanson discusses many things including the fact that EMs will happen when it is feasible to make them at a low cost. Even if we had the technology now to create them, it would be too expensive. It would have to cost as much as or less than it costs to pay humans to do those jobs now.
When Hanson talks about organization he talks about how EMs will have similar units as we have among humans; cities, families, firms. However they will also have clans. Clans will be EMs that are copies of the same human and they will be more identical than twins. And in the section on sociology Hanson talks about how sex and mating will be different for the EMs. On the one hand they are a copy of humans and therefore it would be ingrained in them to have a need for love, sex and connection. However there would be factors that would make this difficult such as their work drive not allowing them to focus on anything else and the fact that the ratio between male and female probably wouldn’t be equal.
Many people may ask how could we get a future that no one wants. It is hard to imagine anyone in today’s age that would want all humans to have their jobs taken over by machines and the possibility that humans would be without money and therefore not be able to survive. However, it would not be a result of what we all want together. No one is choosing technology collectively; it’s not something we vote on or agree on. It is done by individuals who are innovating things in order to move forward and make money. The EM Age could come as a result of decentralized competition. Each of us trying to individually get what we want could end in all of us together getting what we don’t want.
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 12 September 2016
Arun Sundararajan is the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism. He is a professor of business at the Stern School of Business at NYU. He is interested in researching how digital technology brings about change in our economy and he has published over 50 scientific papers and over 30 op-eds on subjects related to this research.
The sharing economy is a very hot topic at the moment. How will the sharing economy evolve? How will it impact traditional jobs? How many vendors will succeed in this type of economy? Although we are still in the very beginning stages of this type of economy, Arun Sundararajan’s extensive research allows us to take a deeper look into what a sharing economy actually is and what the future of this space looks like.
When asked what the sharing economy actually is, Sundararajan says he believes that a sharing economy has at least 5 characteristics. One of the characteristics is that a sharing economy takes an activity that was once provided by a large institution and takes it to a marketplace type environment. One example of this is shown in hotels vs. Airbnb. Not long ago if you were traveling out of town most likely you would stay at a large hotel chain such as Hilton or Holiday Inn. Nowadays Airbnb has become extremely popular. So instead of staying in a large hotel chain owned by a large corporation, people are using the marketplace type platform of Airbnb to stay in other people’s houses.
Another characteristic is that there is a blurring of lines between personal and professional. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are a great example of this. We are using these professional platforms for things that we used to only do on a personal level with friends or family. We are getting a ride from a stranger or staying in a room in a stranger’s house.
Some of the other characteristics he touches on are that we are using assets more efficiently and therefore there is an increase in impact in capital of labor of assets, there has been a shift in who is providing the services, meaning a job that used to be done by a group of highly trained professionals is now done by a distributed group of people who may not have had any specialized training, and there is a blurring of lines between professional full time work and casual freelance work.
When talking about the sharing economy it is important to note the advances and innovations that have allowed us to get here. One of the important advances that is necessary for a sharing economy is a comfort with digital platforms. The fact that we have become so used to and dependent on digital platforms such as Ebay, Craigslist and Amazon has played into the growth of the sharing economy. We have become very comfortable with using technology in our everyday life.
Another innovation that had to come about before we could have a sharing economy is the GPS. There are several platforms such as Uber that would not work without GPS. Which leads into another innovation that is essential to a sharing economy, and that is the Smartphone. The Smartphone makes it so easy and convenient for people to connect to platforms such as Uber, Upwork, Airbnb, etc…
Another important aspect of our move towards a sharing economy was trust. Even 20 years ago we didn’t have the trust needed to allow a sharing economy to succeed. Platforms such as Ebay and Craigslist eased us into this trust several years ago. People were able to purchase items to be sent to them and the trust needed was fairly limited. You needed to trust that they would send the products on time and in good condition, but there really wasn’t much risk involved. Now, our trust level has gone up to the point where we are now allowing individuals to come into our home to paint or clean or we are putting ourselves into a stranger’s car.
Even though it has taken a lot of innovation and forward moving to get where we are, Sundararajan feels that we are coming full circle back to the work model of the 18th century where transactions were peer to peer. The only difference is now we are putting platforms in between the individuals. The sharing economy is like a hybrid between the 18th century marketplace and the 20th century organization. Sundararajan hopes that people will see the move towards a sharing economy more as an opportunity then a threat. He feels that this shift in our economy will bring us back to genuine human contact in our everyday economic activities.
In the next few years Sundararajan would like to see the sharing economy expand rapidly. However, to have this happen successfully there are two things that he believes are important to focus on. One is funding for things such as paid vacation, insurance, and other benefits. At this time these things are funded by a company or the government in exchange for full time employment, however if we move towards the crowd based capitalism it will be important to find another way to fund these types of benefits. Another thing that is important is getting past the “regulatory conflict” as quickly as possible. He believes that if we can get past both of these hurdles, then the future of crowd capitalism and a sharing economy is promising.
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