How technology changed work, and will change YOUR work and life

Some of these changes will be driven by technology, for example: working from home, old jobs will disappear, new jobs will be created.

Some of the changes will be cultural: Fewer careers will be involved in “making things”, more jobs will be in servicing others, and providing specialist services.

All the changes will affect you socially. You will need to be adaptable, and will probably have several job changes in your working life.

John’s work experience

About 40 years ago I started my first “career” job in an engineering office. On my first day the receptionist took me through to see the engineering manager. On the way, I passed by the telex room with the telex operators inside, through to the project office where two comptometers were calculating the quantities and costs for the engineers, and past the drawing office where the draftsmen were transposing Letraset to project drawings.

All of the jobs that I passed by on that first morning at the engineering office have now disappeared. Gone.


Technology was supposed to reduce our working hours. In 1930 economists were predicting a 15 hour week by the year 2000.

What happened? People are now actually working longer.

And of course technology has made it possible for the boss to stay in touch with employees 24/7.

So even when you are not in the factory or shop or the office, even if you are on holidays - you can be “at work” and on call to the boss.

In Madeline Bunting’s Book Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our lives she says that technology has invaded your previous leisure time, effectively increasing your working hours. So instead of technology reducing our working life, it has actually increased it!!

But changes in the workplace go deeper.

How work has stolen your leisure and your identity “The blurring of work and leisure is complete” Elaine Glaser

Not only careers have changed, but the WAY we do work has changed in the last 30 years. Your mum or dad’s work was relatively straightforward by comparison with what you are about to experience.

In their day most people went to work at a fixed time, and finished work at a fixed time. Most blue collar workers generally had the view that you could work for the same employer for your whole working life.

That’s not true anymore, and we’ll explain the differences through this book. Work is changing and in 30 years time will be unrecognisable.

As you enter the work stream, you are starting off on a journey where the difference between work and leisure is becoming blurred, even in relatively junior jobs. Right now, you probably see the difference between work and play as clear as black and white. And a few years ago it was. But with the increase in technology, things have changed.

Would it surprise you to know that 33% of Americans don’t use up their holiday entitlements! So people are now either enjoying their work so much (or scared of losing their job) that they are not taking holidays that they are entitled to!

Don’t assume that people don’t take holidays because people are scared of losing their job. There is very little evidence of this. People may say that but the bosses spend much of their time telling their workers to go on holiday, strange as that may seem.

This is because the other change in work is that it has become more social. Nowadays, work is has subtly become part of your identity. Now you are NOT described as a worker, rather you are a team member and you are part of a crew, or team, not a distant, faceless company.

What could be better than heading off each day to your place of work to help out your teammates!

Employers (and employees) have created an inverted reality when work is marketed as being more pleasurable than leisure time. What could be nicer than hanging out with the team after hours, eating pizza, and kicking around a few (work) ideas on how to improve the business?

(This is a particular problem for young mums, because dad would rather stay at the cosy air-conditioned workplace after normal work hours while mum feeds and then puts the kids to bed. Only then dad can come home to peace and quiet!!)

When modern companies like Google set up ping-pong and leisure areas, these are to lure the employee to staying at work. To make it more attractive to stay rather than go at knock off time. So why not stay at work for longer, when the choice is a home journey to an empty nest or crying kids?