New in 2006: End of work as we know it

The New Year is a traditional time for predictions. So here are mine. I predict an end of work as we know it. But don't get jumpy– it's not going to happen until the next generation infiltrates the ranks of workers. Get ready to start adapting your thinking today, because the way we think about work now is going to become obsolete.

The end of gender disparity Pay is equal for men and women until there are kids. This inequality will change when generation Y starts having kids because the men are committed to being equal partners in child rearing. Both men and women are willing to give up pay and prestige in order to get time with their families.

The end of the stay-at-home parent Women have already widely rejected the idea of sacrificing their time with children to a relentless, high-powered, long-hours job, and men are following suit. Women have also found that staying at home with kids all day is boring. People will choose shared care. Each parent will work part-time and take care of kids part-time.

The end of the grind People will choose to work as a way to keep the job of raising children from being dull and alienating. People will choose to work because they love what they do. Generation Y is more community oriented and team oriented than any preceding generation. These people will want to work to be part of something larger than themselves. Also, this generation sees work as a path to personal growth– something to look forward to.

The end of "work friends" People's networks will be filled with close friends who do not distinguish between work/family/play. As people create more integrated lives, their friendships will also be more integrated. People's work habits and work connections will make daily life look more like a salon than an office.

The end of office life People will work from home, from their friends' homes, from the beach, all the time. The need to have a home office will decrease because generation Y never knew how to work in an office anyway. They grew up multitasking from their bedroom, and this will not stop when they join the workforce.

The end of consulting Everyone will be a consultant, so the term will be useless. Employers will decrease costs by making almost everyone a consultant. Employees will push for this to get more flexible hours. People already feel no long-term loyalty, and people are already project-focused instead of job-focused. On top of that, everyone wants to be a consultant "if they could just build up a clientele."

The end of hierarchy Pecking order matters only if you're hanging out at the office all day, reinforcing ranks. So the less time people spend at their desk, the less they'll care about rank. Young people have no interest in climbing ladders when they know they won't be around at one place long enough to hit every rung. The question of managers is not, "When can I get a promotion?" but rather, "What can you do to help me expand my skills set?"


What does this mean for you? Don't be constrained by old ways of thinking. And don't be scared of big change. If you're honest with yourself about what you'd really like for your life, you'll probably find that you fit in just fine with the future of the workplace. For most of us, it can't come too soon.

The changes that are overtaking the workplace reward people who have strong relationships, entrepreneurial spirit, and a talent to leverage. People who don't love their work won't get any. People who don't have strong personal ties will have no idea what the point of work is. This is all good news, even for those who hate change.