The Unbundling of Work

Here’s a statement that I’ve heard a couple of times and it has some interesting implications regarding our quest for a new American Dream.

I believe it’s spot on in describing the unbundling of work we are seeing across the country.

  • Your parents had one job during their working life.
  • You will have seven.
  • Your kids will manage seven at the same time (although I know a growing number of people my age that are doing this already).

It’s one of those statements that can evoke different emotions in different people.  I suspect that most people don’t like the idea and I don’t blame them.  Seven jobs at the same time?  Yikes!

But, we don’t have a choice. Those safe jobs we found in the old economy’s industrial bureaucracy are going the way of the dodo.  Even safe government jobs (the last bastion of the full featured job) aren’t really that safe, as we saw with the 2013 government shutdown.

However, the idea becomes less scary when you start to understand what that actually means in practice.  Seven jobs doesn’t mean working seven jobs end to end 20 hours a day.  It means having a mix of seven jobs, many of them from the following areas:

  • online platforms that continuously connect you with part time job opportunities (from low skill driving to high skill work as a lawyer).
  • sales from online companies you own or are partners in.
  • income and support from the products and services your home produces (i.e. energy you produce, use and sell).  (NOTE:  see “your home as a portfolio of micro-businesses” for more on this)

There’s no reason that these jobs can’t be in different industry areas, or accomplished remotely (likely), or run on autopilot (via software automation, which will be common).

As you can see, this type of work environment can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you approach it.  Some early observations:

  • The larger the number and the more diverse (industry, skill set, geography, etc.) the income streams, the less likely you will fail due to any economic reversal.
  • Many of these streams can last a lifetime.
  • The stable income/support provided by a home makes it easier to succeed.

NOTE:  Here’s a recent New Yorker article on how this idea arose out of silicon valley start-up culture.

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Discussion — 3 Responses

  • dagny October 24, 2013 on 5:23 pm

    Working for 7 customers makes more sense than working 7 jobs at the same time.