End to Employment? In the Future You’ll Be Working for Yourself

The future of work is freelance, according to research by marketing startup The Plato Group.

The global recession has already led to a rise in entrepreneurs and self-employment, but this trend is set to continue, with half of all Americans working for themselves by 2020.

Combined with the increasing use of robots in service and care roles, this trend could eventually spell the end to traditional, contracted 9-5 work as we know it. This, in turn, could have a significant impact on everything from housing to food.

As part of this, many of us may end up working fewer or more flexible hours in more relaxed, non-corporate environments.

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Technological and social changes have already resulted in changes to working hours, an increase in home-based work and a rise in the number of industries where freelance work is possible.

The Plato Group believes that there will be “a change in the way work is done, a change in the way companies and workers interact and a change in the government’s response to entrepreneurs.”

In particular, the organisation believes that people who are aware of these changes and adapt appropriately will be in the best position to capitalise on the shift to freelance work, and suggested that states offering tax incentives, such as Florida, would be likely to attract more freelancers and small businesses.

A significant growth in freelance work seems likely largely because of the number of tasks that can now be achieved remotely. In many industries, few jobs involve work that is tied to a specific location and employees could – at least in theory – do their work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

However, if freelancers became the majority of workers this could result in a complete change in where people live and work. Areas with appealing climates, scenery and activities could become increasingly popular, and we could see mass migration away from overcrowded urban areas by workers who no longer need to live in the city, which may even have an impact on property prices.

Some towns might even capitalise on this in a bit to boost tax revenue; we could see high-speed broadband and live/work spaces being installed in areas looking to attract more people.

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Fashion may also be affected. Many offices have already moved away from the traditional suit and tie, but with mass freelancing casual wear – and perhaps even loungewear – could see a surge in popularity.

The on-the-go food industry may see a drop as the demand for lunch break sandwiches dwindles, but the home delivery industry – which has exploded over the past few years – could see demand skyrocketing.

However, this shift could also have a very negative impact. Freelance work is often very insecure and can mean living hand-to-mouth with no regular salary to make mortgage payments, pay insurance premiums and similar.

While some would undoubtedly thrive in a freelance system, many may find themselves struggling for work.


Images courtesy of Toms Bauģis.


Break the Ties: Why Ending Reliance on Earth is Vital to the Mars Mission

Ending the reliance on Earth for resources during space missions is essential for the success of the manned Mars mission, according to Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director of the International Space Station.

Introduced as “Mr ISS” this morning at the final day of the Humans 2 Mars conference in Washington DC, Scimemi explained how several logistical and technological issues needed to be tackled and tested before such a mission could take place.

“There are no flowers on the road to Mars,” said Scimemi, adding that parties with a vested interest in the Mars mission needed to be careful about what they wanted from it.

“If the goal is getting to Mars, and eventually getting to the surface… how we actually do that is a matter of how much money we have and what are our technical and human health risks,” he added.

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At present we are “earth reliant”, meaning that all space missions are tied to the earth for communications, crew supplies, hardware, emergency return on crew and, of course, rubbish disposal.

“The simulations that we do on station are all reliant on these things,” explained Scimemi. “And we’re trying to learn how to break these connections to the earth in our simulations, in our research, in our technology development.

The aim is to go from a situation where we are “car camping in space” to a scenario where the only connection the spacecraft has to earth is a communications link with a delay of up to 42 minutes.

The key to breaking this reliance is the research and development being undertaken at the International Space Station.

“The two major things we have going on is our life support system, and the upgrades to that to be able to build the next Mars life support system, and our crew health research and our crew performance systems development,” said Scimemi, adding that crew support activities and vehicle activities such as rendez-vous and docking were also being researched, alongside Mars simulations.

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From here, NASA is looking to break the chain of logistics and, as a result, reduce the day-to-day reliance on Earth. This should mean that the time spent out of communication with Earth should grow, which in turn should enable further distances to be travelled.

The challenge of maintaining crew health and performance is essential to this. In particular, issues such as food supplies and health assistance need to be addressed carefully, and NASA needs to develop an effective system to provide emergency care if it is required.

Other factors include the development of reliable and low-maintenance life support systems and ensuring adequate performance from the crew throughout the mission time.

For Scimemi, all of these factors must be resolved before a Mars mission can be tackled.

He believes the best way to ensure that the space agency is ready for such missions beyond low-earth orbit is to combine the technologies and solutions developed to break ties with Earth in a shakedown cruise: a  test run in cis-lunar space (the area the moon’s orbit covers) where any issues can be safely resolved.


Featured image courtesy of NASA.
Body images screenshots from Humans 2 Mars Webcast.