A "work revolution" must see the nine-to-five job ditched in favour of more flexi-time, job-sharing and working from home, the Tories said yesterday.
Without a shake-up of the way employment is viewed, Britain's economic prosperity could be threatened, shadow work and pensions secretary Phillip Hammond warned.
Employees could switch from working for just one firm to a freelance-style approach, signing on to the books of a number of companies under a "zero-hours" contract.
They would then sell "slivers of time" by the hour or by the project to employers, Mr Hammond said.
The "job for life" has already become a thing of the past - and the distinction between "employed and unemployed" would soon follow, he added.
"We have no doubt that to deliver both our economic and our social goals, we must see a huge increase in flexibility in employment patterns.
"Human capital is the natural resource of Britain."
He said the question facing employment in the future is: "Is the rigid nine-to-five working day pattern of conventional employment fit for purpose in the 24-hour/365 day global economy, where firms have to work across time zones and accommodate different cultures if they are to remain competitive and thus to survive?
"We in the Conservative party have no doubt the answer is a resounding 'no'."
Under the party's vision, more people will work from home or at different times of the day to meet both the demands of their employers and the pressures of their own lifestyle.