- IMD Business School
News Stories · Workplace Well-being

Flex or Fail: What is the future of work and pay?

A new book by IMD Professor Arturo Bris, Dr Tony Felton and Robby Mol examines the careers of tomorrow
March 2019
  • The book ‘Flex or Fail’, written by Prof. Arturo Bris, Dr Tony Felton and Robby Mol, provides a clear picture of how technology will affect the future of work.
  • The perspective of Individuals, organizations and governments take center stage
  • The book is of particular benefit to early-career individuals and established executives who wish to future proof their careers
  • More information is available on flexorfail.org.
  • The book is available through the IMD Info Center and online

What is the future of work? Flex or Fail looks at one of today’s most urgent questions in the face of new technology like AI and robotics. Work & pay, quality of life, and how to maintain ‘fitness to work’ in a technology driven world are some of the key issues at the heart of this new book by IMD Professor Arturo Bris, Dr Tony Felton and Robby Mol.

In the developed world today, 70% of the global workforce has an employment contract and this underpins an economic system which allows people to buy a house, get a loan for a car and marry and raise kids with security. The self-employment and part-time rate is roughly 23%, with around 7% unemployed. But in a world where technology is replacing jobs, contracts are monitored on the blockchain and lean companies are on the rise, these numbers are about to flip. Lifelong jobs are almost extinct, and individuals are faced with job insecurity. In short, the economic fundamentals are being shaken. On the one hand the solution lies into organizing work more flexibly. On the other hand, individuals need to learn how to orchestrate multiple income streams to face this societal change with resilience and confidence.

“The economic and social consequences raised in Flex or Fail go beyond the disruption in business models that the gig economy is causing. A flexible job is potentially beneficial to those in the workforce and society but not everyone will be up to the task to self-organize. But we are cautiously optimistic because individuals taking control of work & pay is something the world has done before. Organizations as we know them today have only been around for the last 100 years. In earlier times most people were self-employed and managed their personal brand”, stated the authors Bris, Felton and Mol.

Benefits and key features

Practically everyone about to enter or already in the workforce who wishes to reflect upon their working life and personal goals stands to benefit from this book. It also raises important issues for organizations and countries related to competitiveness, labor, markets and tax systems.

  • The book draws from interviews with individuals spanning several generations
  • It provides practical examples of portfolio management with personal solutions to questions such as how much money provides a good quality of life
  • Flex or fail is a practical, easy-to-read book with an international perspective and clear infographics
  • Learning and global research are brought together with the aim to empower people and create real impact

The book takes an optimistic perspective that there is much to be gained from collaboration and peer-to-peer community building. A surprising number of people (162 million or 30% of the workforce in the developed world) already engage in independent work activities. This portfolio approach to work has not yet been fully accounted for in general economic theory.

Flex or fail addresses individuals who are facing significant change in their personal lives along with the fear and emotion that goes with facing an uncertain future. The authors’ fact-based approach considers humankind’s inherent resilience and confidence in dealing with change. It seeks to provide a roadmap to navigate work and pay as well as a series of evolving disruptive factors that will impact all generations, even the elderly, in the coming decades. By doing so, the book provides signposts to individuals and organizations about how they can manage their situation effectively in a rapidly evolving work environment.

About the authors: An economist (IMD Professor Arturo Bris), a doctor (Tony Felton), and a digital entrepreneur (Robby Mol) wrote this book together bringing in unusual and diverse perspectives on the topic of work and pay. The three authors live in Lausanne, Cornwall, and Amsterdam.

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