Webinar: Rewiring the 21st Century Workplace – How to Make it Human-centric and Tech-driven

By Kealan Finnegan

After leading a highly insightful roundtable in February, the UK India Business Council was delighted to welcome back Dr Paul Redmond, Director of Student Experience and Enhancement at University of Liverpool, for his adjusted views on the future of work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a webinar, ‘Rewiring the 21st Century Workplace - How to Make it Human-centric and Tech-driven.'

Dr Redmond explained how COVID-19 has accelerated the ‘zombification of job markets.’ He defines zombification as replacing jobs with algorithms, technology, and data. Pre COVID-19, 35% of current jobs in the UK were at a high risk of computerisation over the next 20 years. Dr Redmond estimated that COVID-19 has accelerated this timeline to 10 years, and added that by 2030, robots are on track to displace 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide.

A couple of new essential utilities and skills mentioned were Wi-Fi and digital fluency. Employees can now easily work in any Wi-Fi area, and because of this, digital adaptability is both timely and necessary. More than ever, organisations must be hybrid, not completely physical nor completely online. Remote working is here to stay, driving both opportunities and threats. Because of this newfound online accessibility in both the workforce and education, concerns around online security and IP will also intensify.

The proliferation of online learning and blended learning have accelerated dramatically. There will be in the future new opportunities for students to attend multiple universities around the world with no geographical limitations. Dr Redmond presented the idea of ‘digital nomads,’ who can work from anywhere in the world, and the newfound threat to the national taxes affected by these remote workers. Dr Redmond adds that Estonia has recently passed ‘digital nomad’ visas that are starting to make their way into legislation.

Dr Redmond discussed human centric versus technology driven roles, and the three questions to consider when deciding which category your position falls under. He went on to examine how future workspaces may differ from the traditional office. With many companies looking to abandon the traditional office, work will become more project based and transactional, which will rewire what Dr Redmond refers to as the ‘psychological contract’ between employer and employee.

Through our current global situation, office work has been proven to be possible from home, and there are numerous pros and cons to working from home versus an office. The future of the office is adjusting to one of training, conversation, meeting people, and career development, as opposed to a higher focus on ‘working.’ Organisations will derive competitive advantage from focusing on and prioritising employee and customer wellbeing and resilience.

Since lockdown, we have seen a rise in and triumph of social enterprises that leverage the best of their human capital and technology assets while continuing to give back to the community. Their emergence and success is a testament to the immense resilience and innovation of the human race, especially in a crisis.

A huge thank you to Dr Redmond for providing his expert knowledge and insights. We invite you to watch the webinar below for the discussion in full.

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