Workmen and robots
Image: ©WRR

The future of work

Work is central to the economy and to society, and is crucial to people’s lives. Paid work provides income and self-esteem, and it brings people together. But will this continue to be the case?

A lot is changing in the way goods and services are organised and produced. Increasingly, jobs consist of various “tasks” that in some cases can be taken over by computers and robots, or by people somewhere else in the world. What exactly does this cocktail of technological developments and global task differentiation mean for our workforce? Just who will work in future is one question, but another is what our future work will look like.

Flexibilisation of employment relationships

Another labour market trend is the development of looser connections between employers and employees, i.e. the flexibilisation of employment relationships. Will the concepts of “employee” and “employment contract” cease to apply? Such changes raise questions regarding the rules, legislation, agreements, and certainties which form the basis of the world of work and the welfare state.

Social and economic significance

The aim of the Future of Work project is to identify crucial labour market trends in the area of the digital revolution and the flexibilisation of employment relationships, and to investigate their social and economic significance. And what response do these trends demand as regards policy? In 2020 the WRR presented the conlusions and recommendations in the report Het betere werk. de nieuwe maatschappelijke opdracht (no. 102). This report is translated  and published in the Research for Policy series by publisher Springer. The title of the publication is Better Work. The impact of automation, flexibilization and intensification of Work an can be freely obtained from www.springer.com. 

Publications

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Image: ©WRR

Better Work. The impact of automation, flexibilization and intensification of Work (2021)

The automation, flexibilization and intensification of work will have significant consequences for people. For this reason, good work for everyone should become a priority for companies, institutions, employer and trade union associations, and the government. Good work is essential for the quality of individual lives as well as for the economy and society more broadly. This is the outcome of an analysis by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), summarized in a report entitled Better Work: the Impact of Automation, Flexibilization and intensification of Work.

Enlarge image Cover (small) of WRR-investigation no 36: For the sake of security
Image: ©WRR

For the Sake of Security. The Future of Flexible Workers and the Modern Organisation of Labour (WRR-investigation no. 36)

This publication is a contribution to the debate in the Netherlands concerning the future of the labour market. The number of people who have a permanent job is decreasing while insecurity on the labour market is increasing.

Enlarge image Cover (small) of WRR-investigation mastering the Robot
Image: ©WRR

Mastering the Robot. The Future of Work in the Second Machine Age (2015)

In this publication, technology experts, economists and other researchers consider what robotisation and digitisation mean for the future of work. Some jobs will disappear, new jobs will be created, and the nature of much of our work will change. But robotisation takes much more time and effort than many assume.