Back to the future (of work)

Jan 25, 2022

Aboard his DeLorean, Doc Emmett Brown lands in 2050, a time when work is no longer experienced in the same way. Witnessing profound upheavals in the professional sphere that have, in turn, impacted society, he shares his observations in a letter addressed to Marty that will reach him... in 1985. 

Dear Marty,

First, rest assured. The DeLorean has never been so far back in time, but the flux capacitor held up. So I'm fine. Here we are in 2050, and believe me, things have changed a lot.

First of all, hold on tight, people don't go to work anymore! Yes, you read me right. In 2050, you work from wherever you want, they call it "fully remote jobs". And you are free to work for a company from Dubai, Hawaii, Bali or Buenos Aires.

Freedom in the workplace is everywhere. No more exclusivity. Contracts have become more flexible. We work for a mission, a goal and above all we work less.

So, dear Marty, in 2050, the freelance contract is undoubtedly popular. Work is no longer synonymous with prison, even if the permanent contract seemed to be more protective and allowed for a long-term career.

This is because priorities have changed. What a transformation! The quest for meaning has definitely supplanted individual ambitions. Benevolence is the norm at all levels of the company. The manager is no longer that little boss who looks over your shoulder and watches you. On the contrary! He has become a coach, a mentor, and his primary mission is to help his employees grow. Trust, responsibility. Work is no longer a chore, but a pleasure.

Any good scientist, need I remind you Marty, will tell you (and who is the best, in all modesty, if not me!). Nothing can beat the law of causality. No action without consequences. The world of work has made its revolution and dragged the whole society behind it. Unless it was the other way around. Or that the two movements were concomitant. Great Scott! I'm confused. In any case, the reality is there.

Take the example of cities. In your present day of 1985 (and even later) living there is a real ordeal. Offices have taken the place of historically residential areas, commuters block the accesses creating endless traffic jams, factories pollute the air we breathe.

In 2050, what a change! The fully remote jobs boom makes offices unnecessary. Cities and business districts have been reinvested by residents. There are no more cars! Cities are pedestrianised, with an extremely efficient public transport network. All amenities will be accessible within minutes. Cities even integrate the surrounding nature with an emergence of green spaces and wooded areas. Quality of life has become the number one value.

Moreover, dear Marty, in 2050, the wealth of a nation is no longer measured solely by its GDP. Equity, environmental impact, sustainability, parity, happiness, are parameters that now count just as much, if not more, than simply quantitative measures.

None of this would have been possible without the struggles of previous generations (in relation to 2050, starting with Y and Z). These are your children's and grandchildren's Marty. We used to have an annoying tendency to criticize the new generations as well as the new technologies.

Yet these are the generations that, regardless of their ethnic, social or geographical origin, have developed common values as opposed to individual 'pleasures' and have fought together against climate change and for a life guided by the search for meaning and happiness. What I see in 2050 proves that they have succeeded.

However Marty, don't forget one thing. The future has multiple possibilities and the chrono-temporal sequences are infinite. The future therefore depends on the choices made in the past, and the version of 2050 that I am in will only come true if the right decisions are actually made. It is up to your generation and those that follow to make it happen.

Until I return, I thank you for taking care of Einstein. I hope his barking doesn't wake you up too early in the morning.

Give my best to Jennifer.

Your friend in time and in life.

Dr Emmett Brown



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