To help the UK government plan and build a resilient and sustainable workforce, the Department of International Trade invited FOW Co-Director Dr Stefanie Gustafsson to present her thoughts on the future of work post-covid.
Though academics and politicians have been debating the future of work for some time, the pandemic has caused a huge reset, changing the conversation around these issues. While we are currently somewhere in between the ‘old’ way and the ‘new’ there is a growing recognition that these developments can’t be ignored.
In her presentation Stefanie reflected on the current challenges that organisations face as workers return to the office after almost a year and a half at home. She explained how the pandemic has shifted the main concerns around the future of work from things like automisation and worries over technology replacing humans; to a reimaging of the concept of work and working. A major part of this is related to hybrid working arrangements, and how organisations can create effective practices that prioritise both the individual’s needs and wellbeing and the social cohesion of the company.
In other words, how do organisations and employees get the best of both worlds?
According to Stefanie, trust is a key part of this. She explained the benefits of having and showing trust in your employees – including better communication and knowledge sharing, higher engagement and discretionary effort, as well as organisational innovation - and shared her research on how organisations manage to preserve trust during challenging times.
She also explained that successful work foundations rely on putting people at the core and organising for inclusivity, as well as prioritising outcomes over process and presenteeism. While organisations may want to get workers back into the office, they must recognise that their employees want the flexibility to segment their lives in a way that is effective from them. You can achieve a lot without being in the same place!
She concluded her presentation by exploring the likely skills required in this new work set-up including advanced digital skills, adaptability and resilience.