Thursday, January 16, 2014

The workplace of the future – you had better get used to it

Only those who are able to think outside the box and imagine scenarios, will be able to survive in the workplace of the future. Simply put we don’t know what that is, and one thing we know is that it will not be recognizable from today.

One thing is certain that there is NOTHING called a full time job, or a permanent job. It is going to be a shock to those who think they have a security of a full time permanent job. It is better to be able to be ready, before it is thrust on us like a lightening strike. Only the farmers in Sri Lanka are the most ready for this, as they have known permanent impermanence! Therefore they have been forced to be flexible long before the flexible workplace became fashionable.

I deal with mainly young people under 30, assisting them in whatever way I can, especially in the very difficult area of employment. There is very little I can do in actually finding them a job they want. That is beyond a practical possibility of mine, and I try and do the next best thing, by showing them that they first need the tools before they begin their job search.

In a world of infinite variety of jobs, one must know first what it is one would like to do, and how. The how is also a challenge. Do you want to be close to your home, can you live away from your family? Even go overseas? It is this flexibility that will determine the level of compensation you want.

Then job variety is another previously unthought of luxury, which is now a necessity if one is not to become too specialized in one area, that may require retraining if one cannot find appropriate employment in the chosen field.

If I am forced to tomorrow I can go into farming or to run a shop selling my produce and lift it up one gear from now, to be able to sell food that is free from pesticide use. The main thing is never to be unproductive.

Sri Lankans have brains to get all A’s in all exams they sit, but they may as well fail all their subjects as they have no idea how to parlay that into a productive remunerative area. It is merely jobs that they seek. We still have that dream like concept of Govt. job that is the worst Colonial curse that we are left with as we continue that slavery encouraged by the politicians in Govt. who wish to continue with white slavery. There is NO point pretending we have obtained freedom from Colonialism, when we embrace the worst form of it today.
To get back to the respect I have for our farmers, they have to find temporary employment if they fail to obtain water for irrigation. The whole potential crop for that season is out of the question. They MUST be flexible, if they are to put food on the table to feed their family. Those I know do many different things, are therefore extremely talented in different fields. House painting, construction, fishing, bicycle repair, brewing illegal moonshine, diving for sand in the Mahaveli and its tributaries, driving jobs and doing odd jobs, nothing is beyond their readiness to try. .

As the world is evolving, with the most important job of the day changing just as rapidly, there is NO age barrier and often those in their teens and twenties have the highest income, which they may have to save, as they may never achieve those levels of income later in life.

Though we don’t realize it, Sri Lankans are in fact the most flexible in terms of the different sources of income they must search for to survive. Even Security forces personnel who after 22 years service find themselves looking for a job at 40, cannot live on the retirement income in an era where the Cost of living rises much faster than pension payments.

In the US a 40 something person who is suddenly laid off work, will go on social security and perhaps take a year to find job, and then that will probably pay him about 75% of what he earned before losing the job. They may have to change careers and also retrain.

One only needs to go to COSCO to meet, pensioners helping customers find their products, who have been in all sorts of careers in their lives. Their savings and social security is NOT enough for them to live on, so they have in their late 60s doing a part time job to supplement their income.

With the looming demographic changes those in their twenties and thirties today will HAVE to work till they are 75, in order to carry the load, of a larger unproductive population, and pay off the interest on the loans that this Govt. has committed us to. If they don’t realize that now, they will suffer later and MUST take the necessary precautions to plan for that. That makes planning one’s future, finances, family, and fortress important at an early stage. 

As a rule of thumb, one’s main income source is in future likely to give about 40% of the needed revenue, with the rest supplemented by over 6 different sources of income. Managing this mix is important. We must teach how to.
Let us make the most of the latest technology to assist in this task. The advent of Broadband speeds Nationwide enables us to do most of the research on line. You can actually find work you can do from home for a client in the US from Sri Lanka and you can search for that in SL. In fact if your English is good you don’t need anyone’s services you can do it yourself and have a one to one arrangement, and have the funds directly remitted to your bank account.

So what you may ask can you do from here. Firstly you can take advantage of the time zone difference. So while the US sleeps you are awake. They can email the work for you to do, which when they wake up the following day, you have been able to process and send them. A win win formula for both parties.

Sri Lankans fail, because they lack discipline, and reliability as one cannot keep your customer waiting a few minutes, as there are dozens who will fill your shoes. You must look at your comparative advantage. Namely; cost, time zone. Knowledge of English, willingness to be proactive in making suggestions for improvement of product delivery, and further speed up service standards.

You can improve EVERY job you do, if your knowledge of English is good, and our IT proficiency is sufficient for the task at hand. That opens up vistas that you could never imagine possible.

Working for others involves a level of dependency that creates resentment if you are NOT happy in the position, as you are playing someone else’s tune. Sadly it is what we seem to aim for, not realizing that we are merely allowing ourselves to be enslaved.

I am glad that some jobs that were taboo, are now sought after, as the level of pay in some exceed those of doctors by a long way, and so seeking to be a doctor is losing its luster. The University Degree and Govt. job will also go that way within a few years, when the reality of the labor market hits us.

In the job search one must first search for contentment and then remuneration, as otherwise the recipe will just cook up a poisonous odor of dissatisfaction. Recently a few school boys produced a short film of about 20 minutes, which was done in one week, a record for such an ambitious task with a low budget. Why should they stop there? The next step would be produce a little more quality product and sell it to a TV production company, and perhaps get hired, without even sitting for A levels. By 26 you would have worked 10 years, earned enough to buy a car or house! And then chillax with your kids by 35.    

I believe my highest earning years was when I was 33, when I had 75 staff work for me and there was only one person above me the CEO, in a Publishing Company in Santa Barbara, California. However I believe I got the most satisfaction, when I was earning the least, but working the hardest,  as a farmer in Polonnaruwa, but somehow seemed to have more money than I had before or since!!!! Its all a state of mind isn't it?        

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