AB Thinks  →  24th October 2017

Happy 150th birthday to you

AB Thinks

A third of children born in the UK in 2012 are expected to live to be 100. With continued advances in medical research and health technology it doesn’t take an enormous leap of the imagination to see a society where people stay fit and healthy well beyond that age.

While the oldest lifespans have remained stubbornly at around 120 years for hundreds of years, could we be about to enter an era where people are climbing mountains or skydiving well into their 100s is considered normal?

And if we start to live as long as tortoises, what will that mean for our careers – for we are surely likely to have more than one.

Does the thought of working into your 100s horrify you, or would you be excited by the prospect of a varied and constantly changing working life, with the opportunity for new challenges, experiences and lifelong learning?

Might we be more inclined to take career breaks to raise families, travel the world or do voluntary work? Gender equality could be tempered with women having more time after having children to develop their careers.

Will having more time to recover embolden people – and companies – to try new things even if they might fail? And how will we all adapt to the complexities of six generations in the workforce?

With longer careers, we’ve the chance to be more demanding of the companies we work for, working when we want, and from where we want, rather than sticking to the traditional 9am-5pm working day in the office.

Flexible working and achieving better work-life balance are already growing concerns for many people, and not just Millennials. The tide is definitely turning.

For organisations, the challenge will be how to engage a workforce that spans several generations.

The social impact of super longevity could also be astronomical. Where will the over-100s live? Are there enough resources and enough space? Current approaches to food, housing, energy, leisure, transportation, pensions and welfare will all need to be radically rethought.

With greater automation many of the jobs traditionally done by people could be relegated to history. Lawyers, accountants, journalists – we might all become redundant to technology. So we’ll need people and teams that can adapt and are willing to retrain as new roles arise and old ones disappear.

One thing is for sure, the traditional corporate ladder will become a thing of the past. It’ll be replaced by skydiving centenarians. Bring on the future!