We’ve dedicated several blog posts to exploring crowdsourcing’s impact on the future of work, the growth of Talent-as-a-Service and how machine intelligence fits in to the evolving workforce. It seems these are topics that are also on the mind of Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page.
In a recently released “Fireside Chat” video featuring Page, fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin and well-known technology investor Vinod Khosla, Page pondered what many workers probably think about often: why can’t we all work part time? This would surely allow us to pursue more fulfilling aspects of our choosing.
Here’s a portion of the conversation courtesy of tech site Re/code. We’ve shortened it for length, but, the context remains unchanged.
Brin: I do think that a lot of the things that people do have been, over the past century, replaced by machines and will continue to be.
Page: 90 percent of people used to be farmers. So it’s happened before. It’s not surprising.
Khosla: The vast majority of employment shifted from farming to only needing about two percent of the U.S. workforce. That happened between 1900 and the year 2000. I see the beginnings of that happening again with the rapid acceleration the next 10, 15, 20 years.
Page: I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance, like the Peter Diamandis book. If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy: housing, security, opportunity for your kids… It’s not that hard for us to provide those things…
So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true… I think there’s also a social problem that a lot of people aren’t happy if they don’t have anything to do… You need to feel like you’re needed, wanted and have something productive to do.
…I was just talking to Richard Branson about this. They have a huge problem that they don’t have enough jobs in the U.K. So he’s been trying to get people to hire two part-time people instead of one full-time… You just reduce work time.
Everyone I’ve asked… if I ask them, “Would you like an extra week of vacation?” They raise their hands… “Two weeks [of vacation], or a four-day work week?” Everyone will raise their hand…
Whether intentional or accidental, Page has hit on a primary reason crowdsourcing is rapidly becoming a preferred employment option for a growing section of the population. Right now, Lionbridge’s crowd has about 100,000 carefully screened and trained members around the world available to complete projects in areas such as language translation and interpretation, global testing and data projects. Just as machinery simplified farming, the cloud has made crowdsourcing possible.
These professionals joined the crowd because it afforded an opportunity to work when they want, from the location they desire, on the types of projects which they find most appealing. Many use crowdsourcing as a part time or secondary income because it is more flexible than a traditional 9 to 5 office job, allowing the pursuit of other personal priorities.
They’re not “just microtasking” either. They’re using their knowledge, expertise and skills to deliver a 21st century approach to important work for major enterprises operating around the world. The Lionbridge crowd is educated and highly motivated to do the best job possible because their next assignment depends on it. That’s different from other crowdsourcing services that use an “open call” recruitment model allowing virtually anyone with the internet to participate, regardless of skill.
It might be a stretch to one day imagine a four-day work week or a 30-hour work week for everyone. However, for individuals who read Larry Page’s comments and wondered if there is an alternative to traditional full time employment, I can confidently say that Lionbridge is already pioneering the next disruptive delivery method in the form of Business Process Crowdsourcing.