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  • - [Narrator] This is the workforce of the future.

  • Technology is transforming the world of work beyond

  • all recognition, creating groundbreaking opportunities.

  • - It's an amazing thing to be living in this digital age.

  • - But it's also eroding the rights of workers.

  • - It creates a kind of dog eat dog world.

  • - [Narrator] Some even fear a dystopian jobless future.

  • - Technology today could lead to 45%

  • of current jobs disappearing.

  • - [Narrator] But are these anxieties overblown?

  • - The future is about the collaboration

  • between humans and these technologies.

  • - [Narrator] How we react to this brave new world

  • of work today will shape societies for generations to come.

  • For some people work is where the Wi-Fi is.

  • In the past two years, Samantha and Justin

  • have lived and worked in more than 20 countries.

  • - We started this year in South America.

  • We lived in Peru, in Santiago, Chile, Bariloche, Argentina.

  • - [Samantha] Croatia,

  • Innsbruck, Austria, - Austria.

  • - [Samantha] Portugal, Italy, Norway.

  • - [Justin] Which was really pretty.

  • - [Samantha] And then we were on Reunion Island

  • for two months.

  • - [Justin] Off of Madagascar.

  • - Yes and when we were there everyone was, like,

  • "How in the world did you find this place?"

  • - "How did you find this place?"

  • - [Narrator] Nut throughout their travels,

  • Justin and Samantha have each been holding down a job.

  • He runs a digital creative agency

  • and she works for a California based startup.

  • They're a very modern carnation of a very old idea.

  • They're digital nomads.

  • - Thank you.

  • - [Narrator] Today, people working remotely around the globe

  • like this number in the millions.

  • - A lot of people that define themselves as digital nomads

  • move around very, very frequently.

  • But we typically move around at least once a month.

  • - [Narrator] The couple say the extraordinary

  • recent advances in digital technology

  • allow them to keep exploring the world

  • without compromising their careers.

  • - [Justin] We rent an apartment, we set up an office,

  • we're not on vacation.

  • We live pretty normal lives.

  • And so it gives us the opportunity to kind of

  • integrate and become locals.

  • And try on different flavors of life.

  • - [Narrator] There are down sides to this liberating

  • grand tour of new cultures and horizons.

  • Digital nomads sometimes have to be more nomadic

  • than they might like.

  • - [Samantha[ Just out of Curiosity,

  • I wonder what the Visa policy is.

  • - [Narrator] Location independent workers

  • as they're also known often travel on tourist Visas

  • and are usually restricted to a maximum

  • of a few months in each country.

  • - So, Fiji, we need to go to so that we can

  • get out of New Zealand before we violate their Visa policy.

  • - [Narrator] But some countries are going out of their way

  • to attract this new breed of global worker.

  • Estonia is about to launch a special Visa,

  • allowing them to stay for a year.

  • With other countries set to follow suit,

  • some predict there could be a billion

  • location independent workers by 2035.

  • For those with no ties, it all points to an increasingly

  • borderless brave new world of work

  • centered around the digital revolution.

  • - [Justin] And it sounds extravagant.

  • But we don't need much to be able to work and be productive.

  • If you're smart about it, I think that travel

  • can be a long term sustainable lifestyle.

  • And it's not that crazy.

  • - [Narrator] Of the more than 60 million Americans who work

  • over 50 million are employees.

  • They work for somebody else.

  • - [Narrator] In the middle of the 20th century,

  • many workers in the rich world,

  • expected a job for life in one place.

  • But today frequent job changes are not unusual

  • and 70% of professionals around the globe

  • do some work remotely.

  • These seismic changes are leading to continual reinventions

  • of that most traditional workplace, the office.

  • In San Francisco, entrepreneur Frank Boulier

  • is starting his daily journey to work.

  • - Have to move from my room, go down the stairs

  • to my office space.

  • I would say it's a dream commute, yeah.

  • - [Narrator] Frank's part of an emerging trend,

  • living and working with other people in the same place.

  • - When I move from one space to the other space

  • I switch from living to working.

  • - [Narrator] The space, run by a company called Roam

  • includes meeting rooms, relaxation areas

  • and even a cocktail bar.

  • It caters to the more exclusive end

  • of the global coworking market.

  • - You get to meet amazing people

  • from all across the world and I find that exciting.

  • The vibe is less office,

  • more professional commune.

  • And the residents are glad at the chance

  • for some digital detox.

  • - We're all tethered to our cell phones

  • and we're all tethered to technology

  • and I think that what's unique about Roam

  • is that it builds community and it builds

  • a communal living style that allows us

  • sort of to unplug at times.

  • - [Narrator] This kind of communal living might have

  • niche appeal right now but 2.3 million people worldwide

  • already share coworking spaces and there are signs

  • these make for more productive workers.

  • The Harvard Business Review found that nearly

  • nine out of 10 coworkers felt happier

  • than in their previous place of work.

  • And over 80% felt more engaged and motivated.

  • - I've never been more productive

  • even though I do less hours.

  • Would I ever go back to traditional corporate nine to five?

  • No.

  • - [Narrator] Technology is also changing how people

  • work and live in poorer countries.

  • Kibera, Kenya, Africa's largest slum.

  • Work here is scarce.

  • The average wage is less than two dollars a day.

  • Joseph Kamau grew up here.

  • - This is my first computer.

  • - [Narrator] Two years ago he was scraping by

  • as a street hawker selling food.

  • But today, Joseph is making a new living

  • as a paid up member of the global gig economy,

  • the labor market where self employed workers

  • are paid to do short term freelance tasks.

  • - For me, a person living here in Kibera

  • how would I have gotten a job for a person in America?

  • - [Narrator] He gets up to 10 part time jobs a week

  • entering data for clients based all around the world.

  • - It's an amazing thing to be living in this digital age.

  • - [Narrator] Joseph works in arguably the fastest growing

  • segment of the gig economy known as The Human Cloud.

  • Some of the jobs that used to be done

  • by white collar workers in wealthier countries

  • are now broken down into individual tasks.

  • These are advertised online and carried out

  • by remote workers scattered across the globe.

  • This Human Cloud industry is worth an estimated

  • $50 billion dollars a year.

  • Now the Kenyan Government is training one million

  • young people for this new digital workforce.

  • And helping them is the outsourcing firm Samasource.

  • - Brands have included Google, eBay and Microsoft.

  • - [Narrators] Freelancers here work on a range

  • of digital services including image tagging

  • for artificial intelligence.

  • - [Woman] We're training cars to drive themselves.

  • - I know, right? - Yeah, it's funny.

  • I don't even have a car but we are working

  • on projects on self driving different cars.

  • - [Narrator] Some fear that the flow of digital service jobs

  • from rich countries to poorer ones

  • could push down wages globally.

  • But for many people here the new opportunities

  • offer a way out of poverty.

  • - I mean, someone sitting in the U.S. might say

  • a job like this is not paying a living wage

  • but for us it really gives us an opportunity

  • to be able to bring some of these young people

  • into the digital age and the digital economy.

  • - [Narrator] Since working in The Human Cloud,

  • Joseph has been able to move his family out of the slum.

  • - I'm gonna join university next semester.

  • I'm gonna do computer science, my dream course.

  • And, yeah.

  • - [Narrator] In wealthier countries,

  • some workers see the gig economy

  • as less of an opportunity and more of a threat.

  • Max Dewherst is a delivery cyclist

  • for a British courier firm

  • who campaigns for workers' rights.

  • - How many jobs am I gonna do today?

  • Am I gonna do 18 jobs or 30 jobs?

  • On days when it's very slow

  • we're not gonna make enough money to live.

  • - [Narrator] Many online platforms, those intermediaries

  • between customers and gig workers don't cap the number

  • of freelances that clock on each day.

  • This can flood the market, ramping up competition

  • and slashing earnings.

  • - It creates a kind of dog eat dog world

  • and a very competitive world amongst the workforce.

  • - [Narrator] Some competition amongst workers

  • is healthy for consumers.

  • But Max has a more fundamental complaint,

  • that basic employment rights such as sick pay

  • and job protection are denied to most gig economy workers.

  • - They don't have any ability

  • to set the price of their labor.

  • They don't have any ability to negotiate with the client.

  • They have zero protection.

  • Of course people like flexibility

  • but that shouldn't come at the expense

  • of everything that's ever been fought for

  • for the last 200 years.

  • - [Man] Those people have money.

  • They have millions in their accounts.

  • - [Narrator] Max continues that fight as Vice President

  • of The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.

  • - And I said, well, it's only impossible until we win.

  • - [Narrator] The union is mounting legal challenges

  • against large companies operating in the gig economy.

  • - We've taken a number of courier companies to Tribunal

  • from CitySprint, eCourier, Addison Lee and Excel

  • and now we're taking on delivery as well.

  • - [Narrator] To critics like Max the lack of rights

  • offered to workers in the gig economy by big contractors

  • is rapacious capitalism that will increase inequality.

  • - There are loads and loads of people

  • on these bogus contracts.

  • We see it more and more spreading into other sectors,

  • cleaning, retail, banking.

  • And that's very worrying.

  • - [Narrator] Amid heightened concerns about job security

  • some workers are facing new pressures

  • to become more efficient and productive.

  • But what lengths is it acceptable for companies

  • to go to to achieve this?

  • In Boston, Massachusetts workers at this firm

  • are being closely watched.

  • Their every conversation is analyzed.

  • Their every move monitored.

  • - This is our Humanyze sociometric badge.

  • - [Narrator] Their employer, Humanyze has designed

  • surveillance technology to gather data

  • about how they spend their time at work.

  • - So, it knows if I'm speaking or not speaking.

  • It knows if I'm moving, whether I'm walking around

  • or just sitting at my desk during the day.

  • It knows generally where I am in the office

  • and it also can tell my proximity

  • to other people wearing badges.

  • - [Narrator] Information from employees' emails

  • and calendars is integrated

  • with data collected by their badges.

  • - We have a number of sensors in them,

  • Bluetooth that's able to do location in the office.

  • Microphones look at how much I talk.

  • Motion sensor to look at posture, overall activity levels.

  • - [Narrator] The company says it uses this data

  • to improve the productivity of it's workers

  • and their work environment.