How Mobile Technologies Are Changing ‘Traditional Employment’

In the last ten years, the number of Americans working from home climbed by more than 40%.

According to the most recent Census Bureau data, 13.4 million people currently work from home in the United States, which is four million more than the number of home-based workers documented in 1999.

Thanks to the rampant growth of tablet computers, sophisticated smartphones, and the relative ease with which people can connect and interact from almost anywhere on the planet, companies are beginning to change how they do business and where they station their employees.

Coupled with the ongoing economic troubles of our time, mobile technologies are going to dramatically impact the nature of conventional employment in the coming years. Specifically, says a new report from InformationWeek, “work is beginning to move away from long-term commitments to more project-based or freelance work.”

Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, says: “I think we’ll see a lot more of this as transaction costs and search costs and [as] search costs fall with new technologies, the old jobs disappear.”

By “old” job, he means the 9-to-5 job, where an employee goes in and has a pretty structured work day. In a NY Times article about fitness trainers, Brynjolfsson said the 9-to-5 secure job is becoming more scarce, and people will need to hustle to make a living.

In other words, mobile technologies will make it easier for individuals to work from home or remotely, yet the demands of their jobs could similarly change for the worse.

Josh Elman, a Principal at Greylock who formerly worked at LinkedIn, added to the report, saying: “we thought [work] was all networked-based. You would amass connections over your career and then leverage your network for new opportunities, important connections (sales, business development, and investment), advice, and expertise. What I see changing most now it that jobs and careers seem more project-based instead of company-based. The freelance economy is huge — whether it’s just companies such as Uber, Taskrabbit, Gigwalk or like oDesk, 99 Designs, or marketplaces like Behance or Contently get this to be higher and higher end.”

How has mobile impacted your life and career in recent years? Do you expect further changes in 2013 and beyond? If so, MMW would love to hear from you in a comment below.

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