Economy

Work → In Progress: Redefining Our Work-Life Balance

Telework, telework, telework … The concept may seem like old hat at this point. And yet, there are also new elements to the phenomenon that keep cropping up — new words, shifting workplace relationships, evolving office spaces — as society continues to morph around this shifting reality.

Fascinating innovations around our new work-life balance are still blossoming, in other words — and negative repercussions are still taking us by surprise. This edition of Work → In Progress stays ahead of the game, pinpointing the problems and solutions that will be on our minds even in a fully-vaccinated future.

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Work → In Progress: Telework Is Changing How We See The Office

The enduring pandemic has forced the world to develop new ways of working. What once were casual chats at water coolers are now endless WhatsApp group message chains, while cubicles and corner offices have been replaced by everyone's home kitchen table... not to mention your children doing (or not doing!) their schoolwork beside you. The good news is that the health crisis should begin to ease in the coming months, and most of us will be able to return to the office. Still, nothing will ever be the same after the taste we've had of — and the innovation sparked by — our remote reality.

This edition of Work → In Progress explores how the new work environment is bound to be an ever and always evolving process:

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Work → In Progress: The Freelancing Changes Afoot

Vaccines are slowly arriving, but many of the shifts COVID has created will be lasting. These reverberations are much deeper than just working from home or increased digitization — society's priorities have evolved. Thanks to the pandemic, people all over the world are completely rewiring their lives. They're leaving once-vibrant cultural metropolises for serene greenery and fresh air, turning away from foreign exports to support their local communities and embracing vacation time as an important tool for productivity.

This edition of Work → In Progress explores how these changes in ethos are manifesting in business and labor. In a world rethinking everything from agricultural models to freelance contracts, here are some of the latest trends in the workplace:

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Work → In Progress: Second Wave Seals A New Future For Work

COVID-19 shook up the world of work last spring. Since the virus (and lockdowns) returned this fall, the changes underway have only accelerated.

As the year comes to an end, much of the world is re-confining — or never left quarantine. Although COVID-19 has been with us for nearly 12 months, many of the questions it's triggered about our way of work (and life) have yet to be answered. How do companies factor in their employees' cost of living when so many are moving away? How do workers unionize when they're all working remotely? Can we efficiently network at online conferences? While we may not have all of the solutions just yet, conversations around these themes are swiftly ramping up as businesses prepare for an increasingly remote, digitized world — even post-vaccine.

From Sweden to Silicon Valley to the screen of your computer, this edition of Work → In Progress looks at how companies around the globe are shifting their attitudes as the pandemic rolls on, planting the seeds for the workplace trends of tomorrow.

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Coronavirus
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Why Our Work Days Will Never Be The Same Again

The world found out quickly that COVID-19 would be a major interruption to the way we worked. By now, there is little doubt that the health pandemic — and resulting lockdown measures and travel bans — will leave permanent traces in company policies, employee behavior and our relationship with work spaces and technology.

Yet it goes even further: Since work is so central to people's lives, we are beginning to see how these changes could reshape the broader organization of our economies and societies.

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Society
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Designing A Post-Pandemic Future

Let's not forget that well before COVID-19, we often referred to the "revolution" underway in the workplace. Automation, digitalization, climate change and other seismic shifts were bringing upon major changes in the ways we work. Now, the economy — and life— as we know it seem more unpredictable than ever.

Yet after several months of living with the current pandemic, clear trends have emerged. Around the world, living rooms have become home offices, seminars have become webinars, and industries that have nothing to do with medicine are dependent on a vaccine.

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Work In Progress
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix

In early civilizations, landing a job amounted to interning until your employer died. Fast-forward a few thousand years and fortunately, internships have gotten shorter ... and life expectancy has gotten longer! Still, job hunting has become a journey marked by alternating pulls of hope and hysteria. The swift ascension of global connectedness, Artificial Intelligence, the shifting nature of social norms are uprooting the way we're evaluated by recruiters.

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into how these transformations affect us today and what expectations we should have for recruitment in the future. In many countries, the classic curriculum vitae is becoming obsolete as recruiters use AI and virtual-reality simulations to evaluate candidates; in Russia, employers are shifting their focus from looks to merit; while in the U.S., "likability" might soon be more important than your masters' degree.​

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Economy
Rozena Crossman

Work In Progress: TikTok Hiring, CV Hacking, Pawternity Leave

PARIS — We've seen the employee of the future … and she's pale, red-eyed and hunchbacked. A recent article and a spooky life-size doll named Emma showing what can happen to the human body after working in front of a screen for 25 years, published in the French outlet We Demain, was meant to shock. And it does, on a pure health-related level for anyone working a desk job these days. But it's also a particularly good reminder of employee needs for those whose job it is to recruit and retain the best talent in our digital era.

You OK, Emma? — Photo: Fellowes

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into the realm of human resources, looking around the world for ways that technology and other factors are driving the way we find the right job — and right job seeker. We'll visit a German hospital using TikTok to garner new recruits, would-be new hires hacking their way to outwit HR bots, not to mention a cuddly selection of companies worldwide implementing "furturnity leave" policies ...​​​

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Future
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Gender In The Workplace, Past And Future

PARIS — In 1919, the International Labor Organization adopted the first conventions on women in the workplace. In 2019, the women who won the World Cup earned $850,000 less than their male counterparts. Three waves of feminism have transformed sexual and interpersonal dynamics. Still, the #MeToo movement reminded us of entrenched power-and-sexual dynamics in the workplace. And other contradictions abound: a case is now before the United States Supreme Court about whether a company can force women to wear skirts or fire an employee for being transgender; and even as some women rise to the heights of corporate power, a report last year on gender disparity in tech found that men own 91% of employee and founder equity in Silicon Valley ...

Whatever the gender gap looks like in 2119, at the heart of the matter will be questions about work. The working world is both a microcosm of the world around us and its fuel: a place where networks are formed, ambitions are achieved and wages are earned. This edition of Work → In Progress looks at the future demographics and dynamics around the water coolers of the world.

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Society
Irene Caselli and Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Keeping It Human

A lot of the current debate surrounding the world of work is about figuring who will get the job in the future: machines or humans? We have covered it before, and we will continue covering it. But are we becoming too fixated with the idea that robots and algorithms will replace us, that we have stopped thinking about the future of work for us humans? Yes, the data itself shows that people will keep working! So in this edition of "Work → In Progress," we want to dig a little deeper to see how the future of work will look for us … and, yes: This is being written by a human!

IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID! While store giant Walmart has rolled out thousands of robots across the U.S. in order to clean floors and scan inventory, real cleaners are more in demand across Latin America, reports BBC Mundo, citing data by the Inter-American Development Bank. So, what is behind such opposing trends? Cleaning floors and scanning inventory can be easily automatized. But robots are too expensive for the up-and-coming middle classes in Latin America that only now enjoy more financial stability to be able to afford cleaners at home. And, unfortunately, low-skilled jobs such as cleaning are still poorly paid, and hence more affordable than buying cleaning robots.

SUPERJOBS A recent Deloitte study on human capital puts the spotlight on what they predict to be the future of work: Welcome superjobs! The idea is that one person will be able to do what several people used to do, combining digital knowledge with traditional skills. Does it sound somewhat ominous? Swiss financial platform Allnews says that superjobs will be "more interesting". But Steve LeVine, future editor at Axios, suggests that "superjob" may be just another word for "optimization of the workforce," i.e. more work for fewer people.

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Economy
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Toward A Tech-Powered, Human-Run Future

Machines replacing us humans: Depending on where you stand (and where you work!), this may sound like a dream or a nightmare. Societies have long been fascinated by the idea of handing over difficult jobs to robots, but individuals quickly start to fear what that may entail for their futures. For all the talk about training robots to take our jobs, it seems that for now it's really a matter of training humans to stay one step ahead.

In this edition of Work: In Progress, we take a look at how this technically-driven, but always human-run future is playing out in very different ways and locations. In Greece, for example, a startup has begun teaching competitive computer coding skills to the rising number of refugees who have arrived in the country. This is as much about social policy as job training, and alone will not turn the Greek tech sector into a Silicon Valley competitor. Still a change of mindset can be a powerful thing for a society. That's also the thinking in China where an essay in the Beijing-based Economic Observer asks whether the country will eventually lose its innovative edge because of a public school system that fails to encourage independent thinking.

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