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Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on this site and on Twitter will start in late 2020. It will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

A Mundane Comedy is Halcyon's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and on social media during late 2020. Please get in touch with any questions about the book or related Halcyon services.

Halcyon monitors change for more than 150 key elements of life.

What's Changing? - Work

Work

 

Please see below selected recent work-related change. 

 

See also:

 

October 2020

 

September 2020

  • The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the equivalent of $3.5 trillion in lost working hours during the first three quarters of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, according to the International Labour Organisation. While an earlier estimate from the organisation suggested the equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs would be lost in the second quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, the number was re-estimated to be closer to 495 million full-time jobs lost during that time.
  • Millions of workers had to contend with joblessness in the wake of the pandemic, but the global health crisis triggered another, less discussed consequence: underemployment, a term that encompasses working a job that doesn't offer enough hours, enough pay or doesn't match one's skill level. Under-employment can rob us of our sense of identity, causing mental distress.
  • GZEROMedia warned that there are three reasons why many will find their jobs are gone for good. One, some businesses will not survive the economic stress. Two, some employers will see layoffs as a chance to lower labor costs as their companies struggle to restore profitability. Three, COVID-19 has increased incentives for many businesses to accelerate the process of replacing workers with machines that work around the clock and don't take sick days.
  • Working from home is a revival of an old idea. Before the Industrial Revolution, the template for residential architecture included a space for doing business. English “workhouses” combined a workshop with the family’s living quarters, “longhouses” gave shelter to farmers and their animals, and merchants often lived above their workshops and storefronts. In the US, middle-class homes typically had a “den” or “gentleman’s study” close to the front door where the master of the house received clients. What changed with the Industrial Revolution is now seeing another big shift. In 1967, US broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite concluded his report on the home office by predicting, correctly, that “with equipment like this in the home of the future, we may not have to go to work—the work will come to us.” Quartz offered guidance on how to make the most of that shift.
  • Research by McKinsey tried to understand what will the global workforce would look like after the coronavirus pandemic, based on a survey of 800 executives from around the world. It found that 85% of companies accelerated digitisation and 67% accelerated automation and artificial intelligence during the pandemic, with faster expansions in firms that had a greater shift to remote work, especially the financial services and tech sectors. McKinsey's survey suggested the mix of jobs available post-pandemic would be different, predicting increased demand for contractors, gig workers and hygiene, cybersecurity and data analytics jobs.

 

August 2020

 

July 2020

  • Working remotely is now the norm for most white-collar employees. The results of the coronavirus office exodus are opening leaders’ eyes to future possibilities. Productivity has increased in many cases, but isolation and “Zoom fatigue” highlight the shortfalls of the available technology. As The New York Times Magazine reported, companies are creating new options to provide the videoconferencing world with a greater sense of community - and corporate culture - based on creative conversations.
  • After months of enforced working from home during lockdown, when only a quarter of employees in countries like the UK wanted to go back to the office full time, 55 per cent reported higher levels of productivity. The finding, by identity management firm Okta, revealed a major productivity benefit of remote work, which bodes well as a future model for businesses that embrace the necessary technology and digital transformation.
  • Having a working space inside a dwelling was de rigueur until the Industrial Revolution shifted the locus of work from the home to the factory. Affluent Englishmen began establishing “Victorian libraries” in their city houses, which in turn became a template for today’s home office. What goes around, comes around—we’re back in a new era of home offices, and it’s unlikely to end anytime soon, noted Quartz.
  • A book by Pavlina Tcherneva, chair of the economics department at New York's Bard College, made the case for a "Job Guarantee" federal program. The idea of using federal funding to create jobs isn't new. It's found in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposed US Economic Bill of Rights, and was again debated during the Civil Rights Movement. It's also a key component of the US Green New Deal, a suite of policy proposals that seeks to aggressively tackle climate change and economic inequality.
  • Research from Xerox suggested that 82% of people will be back to the workplace for good by the end of 201. In the meantime, more than half of companies are investing in tech to support a hybrid staff, as the future of the workplace evolves.
  • Is the growing trend to remote work for most industries actually a good trend for workers? Some have pointed out that this can mean a downward pressure on wages.

 

June 2020

  • The idea of the office of the future changed radically in a very short space of time. In January 2020, Facebook announced plans to hire 1,000 staff members to fill their new £1-billion London HQ. But by May 2020, the company had said half their future workforce will be permanently remote. This is just one example of how the coronavirus pandemic blew apart companies’ conceptions of “the office”. Barclays boss Jes Staley said “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”, while Shopify founder and chief executive Tobi Lütke tweeted his company will become digital by default. “Office centricity is over,” he proclaimed. Flexible working is nothing new. A survey of 229 organisations by US research firm Gartner found 30% of employees were already working from home at least some of the time before COVID-19 struck. Since the pandemic began, that number jumped as high as 80%.
  • Employee engagement has improved considerably over recent years, and benefits such as remote working and flexi-time are now commonplace. However, changing workplace cultures are putting increasing demands on workers and threatening the work-life balance, with a quarter of employees saying they struggle to relax in their personal time because of work.
  • Writing for Quartz, the dean and professor of human capital management at the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University, said that our suddenly new ways of working are here to stay. He broke down the principle changes into four pillars:
    • Flexible hours: Employees will be forced to set—and communicate—their own availability, based upon their personal schedules and productivity levels.
    • New employee metrics: To measure individual success at the fully-remote tech firm Automattic, CEO Matt Mullenweg asks employees: “What do you actually produce?”
    • Social impact: The difference between a PR grab and making a real difference can hinge on building long-term relationships with nonprofits instead of one-time actions.
    • Authentic relationships: With the last semblances of formality now stripped away, it’s more important than ever to avoid a culture wherein every interaction becomes casually transactional.

 

April 2020

  • Post the coronavirus crisis, the economic case for such a shift in working practices - radically-reduced overheads, less time lost to commuting - seemed clear enough. Against this, neuroscientists and psychologists argued that Zoom, Slack and WhatsApp are a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction. The interim findings of the Institute for Employment Studies on the lockdown also suggested that, for some employees, protracted home-working would present mental health challenges.

 

November 2019

  • What Can I Do When I Grow Up? is an introduction to the world of work for children. It sets out to answer some very big, fundamental questions about jobs and careers: questions that, because they look so deceptively simple, we often forget to ask. What exactly is a job? Why are there so many different ones? Why do some people get paid more than others? Why are most jobs so boring – and how can we find one we truly enjoy?

 

September 2019

 

May 2019

 

April 2019

  • There are few statistics on unfulfilling jobs. But in a YouGov poll, UK workers were asked “if their job made a meaningful contribution to the world”; 37% no and in a similar survey 40% of Dutch employees said their job had no reason to exist. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory postulates that more than half the jobs that exist are pointless and are in fact toxic to society. In the United States, 21 million people are estimated to be creating little or no economic value, according to a study by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. 
  • The School of Life believes that modern society is surprisingly intolerant of failure, and nowhere more so than in the world of work. This intolerance is clearly embodied in our CVs or résumés, which are not simply an objective record of our employment history, but manufactured narratives of achievement: entirely composed of our accomplishments to imply an ever-upward trajectory of progress. Consequently, when we do fail at work, we see it as not simply regrettable but deeply shameful. If success is the norm, our failure is a deviation; the fault for which lies squarely with us.
  • OECD analysis pointed to the proportion of jobs it deemed to be at high or significant risk of automation. Although most of its members are developed countries, it also included a number of countries deemed to be “emerging” by various organisations, and they are predominantly the ones in the line of fire. Of the 28 OECD countries analysed, the 11 adjudged to have the smallest proportion of jobs at “significant” risk are all developed. In contrast, all 11 emerging countries are among the 17 deemed most vulnerable to job losses.

 

January 2019

  • Chinese exports support as many as 180 million jobs in China, or nearly one-quarter of formal employment there. But exports have fallen to their lowest level in two years as US tariffs on Chinese goods contribute to a broader economic slowdown, reported GZEROMedia.

 

December 2018

 

October 2018

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

 

July 2018

 

June 2018

 

May 2018

 

April 2018

  • The OECD reckons that 50% of jobs are vulnerable to automation, although it varies significantly by country and sector (see summary from The Economist and the full paper here). 

 

March 2018

  • Automation is continuing to move income from workers to owners, according to a new study by the Brookings Institute. "Displacement need not imply a decline in employment, hours, or wages. Rather, it simply requires that the wage bill - that is, the product of hours of work and wages per hour—rises less rapidly than does value-added".

 

January 2018

  • The informal sector – the part of the economy where people work/employ without declaring it to the government – comprises 41 percent of the GDP of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s a massive amount of untaxed income and unregulated working conditions.

2018 sources include Exponential Media

 

January 2017

  • Forecasts on the impact of technology on the future of work are deeply polarised, creating fear of the challenges to come and inaction on new opportunities. What do we know about the transformation underway and what short- and long-term innovations hold the greatest potential to navigate these changes?

 

June 2016 

  • Asking "what’s the future of the workplace?", an MIT professor predicted that new technologies will enable more decentralised decision making and ultimately more freedom in business. 

  

May 2016 

 

 April 2016 

  

March 2016 

  • About 200 million people are unemployed globally, according to BCG. As a result of demographic shifts, there will be a need for 600 million new jobs over the next 15 years to keep current employment rates stable, particularly in Africa and Asia. At the same time, many companies cannot fill positions because applicants lack the right skills, especially in developing countries.

  

 February 2016 

   

January 2016 

 

 

 

December 2015

 

 

 

  • A new book, The Refusal of Work, argues that the time has to come to challenge the work-centred nature of society. The author, David Frayne, an academic who looks at consumerism and radical approaches to work, describes the powerful view that jobs are an expression of our creativity and selves. There is for some, a religious devotion to work. He writes: “Gratifying work is a fantasy that we have all been trained to invest in, ever since our teachers and parents asked us what we wanted to ‘be’ when we grew up.” Moreover, he argues that “those activities and relationships that cannot be defended in terms of economic contribution are being devalued and neglected”. How different this is from economist John Maynard Keynes’s prediction in 1930 that in 100 years we would devote most of our week to leisure.

 

  • Real estate billionaire Jeff Greene warned that technology will kill white-collar jobs. He says new forms of technology will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, because, he claims, we have left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans. He said: “What globalisation did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy - and at a much, much faster pace.”

 

 

 

November 2015

 

  • The European Commission, together with the European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Europe), launched the European Pact for Youth, a mutual engagement of business leaders and the EU to improve the chances for young people of getting a job, at the Enterprise 2020 Summit. The Pact is an appeal to all business, social partners, education and training providers and other stakeholders to develop or consolidate partnerships in support of youth employability and inclusion.

 

 

 

 

  • The OECD unemployment rate was stable at 6.7% in September 2015, 1.4 percentage point below the January 2013 peak. Across the OECD area, 40.9m people were unemployed, 8.0m less than in January 2013, but still 6.4m more than in July 2008, immediately before the crisis. The euro area unemployment rate declined by 0.1% to 10.8%, its lowest level since January 2012. Within the euro area, the largest fall was in Spain (down to 21.6%, now having decreased every month for two years). The unemployment rate in September was stable in Japan (at 3.4%) and in the US at 5.1%), while it increased in Canada (to 7.1%). More recent data show that in October 2015, the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% in the US (to 5.0%) and in Canada (to 7.0%).

 

 

October 2015

 

 

  • In One Algorithm to Rule Them All, strategy+business argued that we’ll likely see is unemployment creeping up, downward pressure on the wages of more and more professions, and increasing rewards for the fewer and fewer that can’t yet be automated. Meanwhile, in Will automation replace our jobs?, the professor of management practice at London Business School, discussed the impact of automation trends in the workplace, and in particular how this will affect the work of internal communicators.

 

 

 

 

  • Looking much longer-term, in On the Edge of Automation, in five hundred years from now, claimed venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, fewer than 10 percent of people on the planet will be doing paid work.

 

 

  • KPMG’s recent piece, Bots in the Back Office: The Coming Wave of Digital Labour explored the ‘withering’ BPO industry. KPMG’s report said “The concept of labour arbitrage as the primary value lever of business process outsourcing (BPO) is dying. The geographic discussion is giving way to automation."

 

 

  • The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.5% in August 2015, stable compared to July 2015, and down from 10.1% in August 2014 - details.

 

 

 

September 2015

 

 

 

 

 

August 2015

 

 

 

 

  • As Europe’s post-crisis workers live through huge labour market upheaval, with growing numbers surviving on short-term contracts, the Financial Times analysed what this means for young people, business and the economy. The FT believes that, in Europe, the increase in temporary work is sinister, as it reflects a rise in precariousness rather than autonomy.

 

 

 

 

July 2015

 

 

 

 

  • Unemployment across emerging markets has risen sharply this year, reversing a six-year slide, even as it has continued to fall in developed countries. The figures compound a worsening slowdown in emerging markets, driven by a fall in commodity prices and a pullback in global trade, which threatens to drag consumer spending down.

 

 

 

 

June 2015

 

 

 

 

 

May 2015

 

 

 

 

 

April 2015

 

 

 

 

 

January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

 

  • Tower Watson's The 2014 Global Workforce Study: Driving Engagement Through a Consumer-Like Experience provided a detailed view into the attitudes and concerns of workers globally, with responses from 32,000+ employees across a range of industries in 26 markets. Key findings: (a) just four in 10 employees are highly engaged, so there is room for improvement, (b) regardless of employee age, base pay is the reason most frequently cited by employees for joining or leaving a company and (c) 41% of employees cite job security as a key reason to join a company.

 

 

October 2014

 

 

 

 

  • In The Future of the Workforce - a world of contingencies, Shaping Tomorrow argued that the changes in both the nature and skills required of employees and the dynamics in the global labour market are creating both uncertainty and opportunity. Many labour trends have been stable for long periods of time, yet are now entering a period of greater change. Contingent workforces are on the rise. For example: businesses will face a shrinking workforce and fiercer competition for skilled workers; many service industries may shed much of their workforceto automation and more of the workforce may be located in service sectors and the average output per worker (and thus average productivity in the economy) will rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2014

 

 

 

 

August 2014

 

 

 

  • The informal sector – the part of the economy where people work/employ without declaring it to the government –comprises 41 percent of the GDP of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s a massive amount of untaxed income and unregulated working conditions.  

 

December 2015

 

 

 

  • A new book, The Refusal of Work, argues that the time has to come to challenge the work-centred nature of society. The author, David Frayne, an academic who looks at consumerism and radical approaches to work, describes the powerful view that jobs are an expression of our creativity and selves. There is for some, a religious devotion to work. He writes: “Gratifying work is a fantasy that we have all been trained to invest in, ever since our teachers and parents asked us what we wanted to ‘be’ when we grew up.” Moreover, he argues that “those activities and relationships that cannot be defended in terms of economic contribution are being devalued and neglected”. How different this is from economist John Maynard Keynes’s prediction in 1930 that in 100 years we would devote most of our week to leisure. 

 

  • Real estate billionaire Jeff Greene warned that technology will kill white-collar jobs. He says new forms of technology will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, because, he claims, we have left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans. He said: “What globalisation did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy - and at a much, much faster pace.”

 

 

 

November 2015

 

  • The European Commission, together with the European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Europe), launched the European Pact for Youth, a mutual engagement of business leaders and the EU to improve the chances for young people of getting a job, at the Enterprise 2020 Summit. The Pact is an appeal to all business, social partners, education and training providers and other stakeholders to develop or consolidate partnerships in support of youth employability and inclusion.

 

 

 

 

  • The OECD unemployment rate was stable at 6.7% in September 2015, 1.4 percentage point below the January 2013 peak. Across the OECD area, 40.9m people were unemployed, 8.0m less than in January 2013, but still 6.4m more than in July 2008, immediately before the crisis. The euro area unemployment rate declined by 0.1% to 10.8%, its lowest level since January 2012. Within the euro area, the largest fall was in Spain (down to 21.6%, now having decreased every month for two years). The unemployment rate in September was stable in Japan (at 3.4%) and in the US at 5.1%), while it increased in Canada (to 7.1%). More recent data show that in October 2015, the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% in the US (to 5.0%) and in Canada (to 7.0%).

 

 

October 2015

 

 

  • In One Algorithm to Rule Them All, strategy+business argued that we’ll likely see is unemployment creeping up, downward pressure on the wages of more and more professions, and increasing rewards for the fewer and fewer that can’t yet be automated. Meanwhile, in Will automation replace our jobs?, the professor of management practice at London Business School, discussed the impact of automation trends in the workplace, and in particular how this will affect the work of internal communicators.

 

 

 

 

  • Looking much longer-term, in On the Edge of Automation, in five hundred years from now, claimed venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, fewer than 10 percent of people on the planet will be doing paid work.

 

 

  • KPMG’s recent piece, Bots in the Back Office: The Coming Wave of Digital Labour explored the ‘withering’ BPO industry. KPMG’s report said “The concept of labour arbitrage as the primary value lever of business process outsourcing (BPO) is dying. The geographic discussion is giving way to automation."

 

 

  • The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.5% in August 2015, stable compared to July 2015, and down from 10.1% in August 2014 -  details.

 

 

 

September 2015

 

 

 

 

 

August 2015

 

 

 

 

  • As Europe’s post-crisis workers live through huge labour market upheaval, with growing numbers surviving on short-term contracts, the Financial Times analysed what this means for young people, business and the economy. The FT believes that, in Europe, the increase in temporary work is sinister, as it reflects a rise in precariousness rather than autonomy.

 

 

 

 

July 2015

 

 

 

 

  • Unemployment across emerging markets has risen sharply this year, reversing a six-year slide, even as it has continued to fall in developed countries. The figures compound a worsening slowdown in emerging markets, driven by a fall in commodity prices and a pullback in global trade, which threatens to drag consumer spending down.

 

 

 

 

June 2015

 

 

 

 

 

May 2015

 

 

 

 

 

April 2015

 

 

 

 

 

January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

 

  • Tower Watson's The 2014 Global Workforce Study: Driving Engagement Through a Consumer-Like Experience provided a detailed view into the attitudes and concerns of workers globally,  with responses from 32,000+ employees across a range of industries in 26 markets. Key findings: (a) just four in 10 employees are highly engaged, so there is room for improvement, (b) regardless of employee age, base pay is the reason most frequently cited by employees for joining or leaving a company and (c) 41% of employees cite job security as a key reason to join a company.

 

 

October 2014

 

 

 

 

  • In The Future of the Workforce - a world of contingencies, Shaping Tomorrow argued that the changes in both the nature and skills required of employees and the dynamics in the global labour market are creating both uncertainty and opportunity. Many labour trends have been stable for long periods of time, yet are now entering a period of greater change. Contingent workforces are on the rise. For example: businesses will face a shrinking workforce and fiercer competition for skilled workers; many service industries may shed much of their workforceto automation and more of the workforce may be located in service sectors and the average output per worker (and thus average productivity in the economy) will rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2014

 

 

 

 

August 2014

 

 

 

 

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