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Will companies still have Full Time Employees in 2030 ?

At first sight, it seems like a foolish question - How can companies work without employees ? Well, we may dream of or be frightened by of a world where companies would be run by Artificial Intelligence and People but these People may not be employees. They may be subcontractors (we all know the sentence “designed in California but assembled / made in China”), suppliers or experts hired for a specific project. Who can still claim today that he or she is a ” Full Time Permanent Employee” ? Full time perhaps but permanent no. And if we dig a bit deeper, the full time job is really a series of projects where the project members vary.

In a world of communities, you may soon have several projects but for several employers not only because you the “employee” decides to work for several employers but because your ‘”employer” has joined forces with another company, a joint-venture, an alliance, a partnership.

These alliances may occur between friendly companies where there is a verticality of product offering or sometimes with competitors. The bottom line is that the work relationship is changing and we can no longer have only full time employees. When you add to this the tendency that your employer may accept (or encourage) you to work from home or from a co-working space, the line between an employee and a self-employed individual is becoming blurred.

Undoubtedly, corporate organisations are evolving from a hierarchy to a network of collaboration between suppliers, contractors, partners and customers. When you add the fact that self-employed individuals can be more engaged than employees(1), the need to have employees is even less evident.

Lastly, if we add the need to reduce the head count and the financial flexibility afforded by having a pool of experts available for a specific project at a lower cost, the question doesn’t seem so foolish now, and we have not even discussed which tasks will remain for people to work on since Artificial Intelligence will take over so many of these.

Certainly Artificial Intelligence and self-employed individuals will not replace all employees but it would be difficult for anyone to predict what percentage of full time employees present in 2016 will be present in the same company in 2030. I suspect the number may be frightening low.

(1)One IBM study found that the independent workers were actually more engaged with the organisation they worked for than regular full-time employees” -Diane Gherson - Senior VP HR IBM

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