Three Worlds for the Future of Work

Recently PwC released a 30 page report called "The Future of Work - A Journey to 2022," which is actually quite fascinating. In fact, I did a podcast with Toni Cusumano who helped create the report. While the whole thing is worth a read, I think the most interesting and important aspect of the report is the concept they created around "three worlds of work." Toni is actually going to be speaking about this at the upcoming future of work forum being held in San Francisco on April 29th. The three worlds are: the blue world, the orange world, and the green world. You can see the breakdown of these three in the graphic above (taken from the PwC report).

The Blue World

In this scenario "big company capitalism" rules; and the primary goal and purpose of a business is to focus on profits, revenue, and growing market share-- pretty similar to what companies focus on today except they will become even larger and more monolithic. In reading the report I immediately thought of the movies I, Robot and Minority Report where these massive organizations rule the world and focus on data, policies, and rules. In these types of organizations individual performance trumps the team, which means the super-stars get to ascend the ranks faster than everyone else. This organization is precise, data-driven, cut-throat, and performance-driven.

The Green World

Here we see a world in which both employees and customers force change. Companies are very focused on sustainability, well-being, and eco-living. These organizations don't chase revenue and market share. Instead, they believe in making a difference in the world, and having a positive social and environmental impact. Flexible work, family friendly hours and office environments are preferred over 9-5 working hours in cubicles. Companies also invest heavily in collaboration technology and conferencing solutions to avoid having employees travel. Co-creation is also heavily embraced as organizations team up with customers, partners, employees, and other constituents to develop products and services.

The Orange World

In this world "big is bad for business," and the driving goal is maximizing flexibility while reducing costs. Smaller, more nimble and agile organizations reign supreme. Instead of organizations becoming larger, they focus on leveraging networks. In this scenario freelancers and entrepreneurs dominate the employment landscape, and companies break up into smaller entities in order to stay relevant with the fast changing world we live and work in.

So which world is better and more likely to happen?

From the three worlds mentioned above, I believe and hope that the Blue world is one that will start to disappear and be replaced by the Green and Orange worlds. Large organizations are already having a hard time adapting to the changes we are seeing in the world, which is why so many new incumbents are replacing the "legacy" organizations. Community involvement, sustainability, and focusing on prosperity instead of profits are also starting to become the new measures of success. Not only that, but most of the companies I am speaking with and researching are planning on increasing their use of contingent labor, and the freelancer economy is booming.

Which one of these three worlds would you prefer to live and work in and why?

Jacob Morgan is a futurist, best-selling author and keynote speaker, learn more by visiting The Future or check out his latest book,"The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders and Create a Competitive Organization," on Amazon.