The network era starts in 2020. Everything before was a prelude.
The new normal, when it comes, will be different. Teaching will be turned upside down. So too will curricula, academic disciplines, and their institutions.
Work will change. Consider that at this moment our essential workers are cooks, cleaners, delivery drivers, and front desk staff. Non-essential personnel like executives, analysts, marketers, and programmers, can stay home.
Many of us have seen this coming. I have been writing about the changes to network era work and learning over the past 16 years. But now everyone can see it. We can reduce commuter congestion by 50% through distributed work. This will reduce carbon emissions as well. There was only one thing stopping it from happening before — management. A microscopic virus took care of that.
Now that management is no longer in charge, every worker has to take charge of their own learning. It won’t come from a program that HR will deliver, after 12 months of development.
Many have been working on trying to make these changes to society for decades. But for the most part, it’s always felt like the work was always within the background of society, never really getting enough momentum to move into the foreground. Because of this, most people have had to be willing to be ignored and invisible, as Deborah Frieze describes these trailblazers.
‘Walk outs’ are the trailblazers. These are the folks willing to turn their back on the dominant system, eager to be free to experiment with the future.
If you’re ‘a walk out’, then you’re willing to feel ignored, invisible, and lonely a good portion of the time. That’s because what you’re doing is so new and different, people can’t see you work even when it’s staring them in the face. These can be difficult dynamics to live with, especially when you know you’ve done a good work, that you’ve already solved problems others are still struggling with. That’s why we, ‘walk outs’, need each other.Deborah Frieze
For myself, it feels like a big flip has occurred. Everything that was hidden within the background of society is now moving to the foreground and everything that was in the foreground is now shifting to the background.
A quick example of this is how blatantly obvious and visible it is that certain people and businesses care more about their own economic livelihoods than they do about the lives of their own employees and customers. It’s really making people stop and question everything in their lives now (i.e. “Is it worth dying for a $15/hour job?”).
And I think that is what this event, more than anything, is affording us an opportunity with right now. It’s giving us a societal reset or time-out. One where we actually have the time to experiment and play with newer ways of being, along with newer social constructs, while we’re within this extended liminal space (since it sounds like it could potentially last for at least a few months or more).
It’s funny. I’ve always described this journey as if one was travelling to a new world. Within the span of a couple of weeks though, it seems like we all have been tossed into this new world, for better or for worse, and everything has changed, regardless of how unprepared some people are for it.
The only way forward is to adapt.
We’re asking our lowest-wage workers to get back to work while our shareholders jockey for handouts. Which ones do you think we should pay first?Vince Mancini, Uproxx
If the future of work requires restructured workplaces, redefined roles, rapid learning, and reserves of trust—and it does, organizations are being challenged to do all that and more as they address the coronavirus pandemic. While we have long spoken about VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environments, we are finally and undoubtedly facing one.
Coronavirus, it turns out, might be the great catalyst for business transformation.
In fact, where we once saw the future of work unfolding over years, we now believe that with coronavirus as an accelerant, everything we’ve predicted about the future of work will unfold in months.Heather E. McGowan, Forbes