Dalai Felinto outlines the new Blender 2.8 layer system (where 'layer' will get quite a different meaning from today) in detail on the code.blender.org website.
The current layer system in Blender is showing its age. It’s been proved effective for simple scene organizations, but it lacks flexibility when organizing shots for more convoluted productions.
The layer system for Blender 2.8 will integrate workflow and drawing requirements. It will allow for organizing the scene for a specific task, and control how different set of objects are displayed.
The following proposal and design document tries to address the above by unifying the object and render layers and integrating them with the viewports and edit modes.