How Has Technology Changed the Way We Work?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Startup of You" by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How has technology changed the way we work? Why are careers ending because of technology?

Today, job stability is all but gone and all careers are now like startups. According to Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s book The Startup of You, technology and globalization have turned the work world from one defined by stability to one defined by constant flux.

Keep reading to learn more about technology and globalization’s impact on the work world.

The End of Traditional Career Development

How has technology changed the way we work? The authors cite two reasons:

First, technology has led to the automation of more and more industries, which has rendered entire career paths obsolete. Hoffman and Casnocha argue that while technology also leads to new jobs, it displaces more jobs than it creates. Additionally, these new jobs often require people to invest more time and education to learn different and more advanced skills.

Second, technology has led to globalization—people can hire and collaborate professionally with others all across the world. We now have far more competitors than ever before, competitors who often already possess the qualifications to do the jobs we want and are willing to do them for less pay. As a result, employers no longer invest money and time into your career development but expect you to train yourself or to learn quickly. 

In short, the ready access to a global pool of candidates has eroded the traditional loyalty between an employer and their employees. In this new era of work, instead of staying at one company for the greater part of their careers, people are now changing jobs more frequently or working multiple jobs.

The Power of the Individual in a Globalized World

While Hoffman and Casnocha argue that technology and globalization have led to greater instability and competition in the work world, other experts contend they’re equalizing forces, giving power to more individuals than ever before. In The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman argues that technology (personal computers and the internet, in particular) has contributed to the flattening—in other words, the elimination of hierarchies of powerof the world: Billions of people now possess the same access to information and opportunities to advance their personal and professional goals. 

In his other book, Thank You For Being Late, Friedman goes into greater detail about what we might expect from the rise of automation and globalization:

Automation: Hoffman and Casnocha don’t go into detail about what new jobs are emerging as a result of automation, but Friedman says that “stempathy” jobs, or those requiring both technical and people skills (“stempathy” is a portmanteau of “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, math) and “empathy”), have seen salaries increase since 2000. This is because jobs requiring only technical knowledge can be automated, and those requiring only people skills have low pay and high competition as they can often be performed by many people.

Global Competition: Like Hoffman and Casnocha, Friedman notes that competition for jobs has become fiercer, adding that motivation is now the key factor for success. He explains that you must not only compete with more candidates but also work harder because everyone has the same access to the same information.

Job Instability: Friedman argues that the world is changing so quickly that your existing knowledge and education don’t hold up as long as they used to. Hoffman and Casnocha argue that to keep up, you must continually work to adapt your career. To do this, Friedman says we must embrace lifelong learning and create platforms that support people’s abilities to learn new skills quickly to keep up with the fast pace of change.

How Has Technology Changed the Way We Work?

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Startup of You summary:

  • Why you must approach your career as if it's a startup company
  • How to overcome unexpected career obstacles
  • The three entrepreneurship principles you should adopt

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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