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Welcome to the Future of Work


It’s no secret that the landscape of the American workplace is shifting fast. The way we do our jobs, not to mention when and where we do them, won’t be the same in five years—or possibly even five months. Think: Just within the last decade, Blackberrys redefined our relationship with work, attaching themselves to the belt-loops of professionals who used to think being out of the office meant being away from work. And also within that same timespan, they faded out into obscurity, an emblem of technological backwardness in a society that had developed newer and better ways to labor remotely. And that’s just recent history. Since Herbert Croly, Walter Lippmann, and Walter Weyl founded this magazine a century ago, the changes have been monumental: Women have entered the workforce, the economy has moved from manufacturing to service, technology has eliminated scores of old occupations and created scores of new ones.

Such shifts have long been a point of fascination for American readers. To that end, workplace evolution is an issue we’ve covered throughout our history: In 1933, Emily Hahn contemplated the plight of unemployed, “unattached” young women without a family to support them. In 1947, Harold Wolff reported on the largest class of college grads—many of them G.I.—trying to integrate into America’s peacetime economy. In 2000, Jeffrey Rosen explored sexual harassment and its connection to e-mail privacy at work. And finally, just a few moths ago, Ben Crair wrote the definitive take on intraoffice Gchat and gossip. 

This is all part of a larger conversation the Future of Work. And we feel lucky to now be able to expand that coverage. Today we launch a new content series, which will run over the next six weeks, on this sweeping theme. We’ll be making arguments about working families, office culture, technological changes, gender equality in the workplace, the “do what you love” movement—plus many other intriguing issues tied to current policy and political debates. The very talented Bryce Covert will be our anchor, complemented by several other sharp contributors.

Image via shutterstock.