Will the New Economy Really Let You "Be Your Own Boss"?


With the onset of a new "knowledge economy" that is based on the foundation of sharing information, and the rise of the millennial generation in the years to come, a so-called "bossless economy" is shape-shifting the organizational structures of many companies into more mixed structures.

In a recent New York magazine article "The Boss Stops Here," Matthew Shaer highlights many of these new innovative start ups that have implemented flatter management styles. Traditional notions of top-down management styles ceased to exist in the halls of Menlo Innovations, a software design company that doesn't necessarily have bosses, but rather teammates who help each other code. Working in pairs, they set and establish goals and work together on the code itself. 

Shaer then goes on to follow the organization through several different challenges and team dynamics that it has to face in this flat management style. Everything is transparent, including salaries. While the company faces obstacles, teamwork is the most emphasized concept in the organization. It's not titles or being indispensable in a workplace organization, nor is it about individual achievement per se, but rather it's about contributing to a team that achieves the goals it has set out. Menlo Innovations' democratization of the workplace intends to kill the bureaucratic elements which can cause problems in larger organizations.

Such sustainable office spaces are constantly adapting, creating a more livable workspace for the transforming and rapidly changing work environment that we live in. With more and more talk of millennials and the generational shifts that are occurring, there is a strong possibility that the world is going to see more decentralized office management styles. Say bye-bye to the cubicle and hello to the open, all-knowing, transparent workspace environments. 

Of course, this won't be possible in all workplace environments. It's hard to imagine how hospital management would use this model in its current form, or other traditional areas where there is a need for a clear chain of command. There's a reason why office management and leadership have several hundred if not thousands of different approaches: Different fields have different solutions to different problems.

The flat management style will slowly make its way into more mainstream fields and will no longer just be relegated to technology and entrepreneurship. Each organization has a different purpose and different means of attaining it. While this is not a silver bullet, teamwork is still incredibly crucial in this day and age. Collaboration is emphasized in almost all areas of work ranging from medicine, to investment banking, technology, education, and so many others. While there will be obstacles, a combination of structural transformations in the world's economy, coupled with huge demographic dividends and a boom in youth population all over the world who emphasize teamwork and achievement, will lead to the expansion of the bossless economy. The world might be witnessing another transformation in the democratization of the workplace with individuals now accountable to the whole team, company, and organization. After all, it's incredibly empowering to be our own bosses.