The Coming War Between Labour and Capital – Audio Version

The Global North is ready to return to work. But trouble is looming.

  
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Across the Global North, vaccination programmes are taking effect.

One consequence? In their millions, citizens face a return to normal working conditions. But no one really knows, anymore, what normal should look like.

For knowledge workers, lockdowns shattered the vast edifice of ritual and routine that existed around the working day. It meant a stark reminder that those arrangements – and the power structures that underpinned them – are not given. They’re socially constructed. Perhaps, if enough of us wanted it, we might get rid of them and build something new.

This week, I was struck by two stories that tap into the Great Return to Work. Stories that offer powerful signals of what lies ahead.

My contention: the conditions are set for a new clash between labour and capital in the 2020s.

I’ll get to that at the end. First, those stories, and a reflection on the broader context that informs this idea.

Just hit play!

If you’d prefer to read this week’s instalment go here for the text version of The Coming War Between Labour and Capital.


Links in this week’s instalment

🎩 What Do Workers Owe The Man?

1.

2. Many knowledge workers report grinding out longer hours during lockdown.

3. In multiple surveys workers have expressed a preference for a hybrid work model from now on.

4. Company leaders are looking at evidence that organisational creativity declines when people don’t constantly mix with one another in shared physical spaces.

🗯️ Free Speech or Focus?

1. In Wednesday’s New Week Same Humans I wrote about internal friction at iconic software company Basecamp.

2. CEO Jason Fried banned ‘political and societal’ discussion on company channels, after growing frustrated with a number of his employees.

💸 Is Work Still Worth It?

1. Across advanced industrialised nations the share of GDP going to labour has fallen across the last 70 years. Here’s that story in the US.

2. Today, US millennials own 3% of household wealth.

3. Young people are turning away from traditional career paths and towards alternate routes, including Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE).


Same Humans Unite

Thanks for listening this week.

New World Same Humans will be watching the reconfiguration of work as it unfolds.

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I’ll be back on Wednesday with another New Week Same Humans. Until then, be well,

David.


David Mattin is the founder of the Strategy and Futures Research Unit. He sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumption.