Before the industrial revolution, people worked individually or in small groups. In communities, each would specialise and trade with those with different skills. In the industrial age, mass production became the norm, with many people involved in producing the same product. In this environment, the factory or office was sacrosanct. Those looking for work had to migrate to where the factories were and the work could only be done on site. Time spent at work was how workers were measured and paid. What is now sometimes referred to as ‘presenteeism’ was unavoidable.

In areas like manufacturing, hospitality and catering, this still exists, mainly because it has to (although with additive-layer printing and home delivery of meals, there are even changes here). However, the mentality of presenteeism is still prevalent in areas where it need not be, especially given the increase in knowledge work in recent decades which involves the brain – something we carry with us wherever we go.

With the recent social and technological changes, working practices, to some extent, now seem to be changing back to a pre-industrial age; reverting to more specialised and local work, except that local can now mean working with someone on the other side of the planet.

Click here to read the full report


How do you think sociological, technological and demographic changes will affect the future of work?  Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

To receive regular updates on the latest reports, subscribe to our monthly spam-free future of work newsletter.