Apart from being major humanitarian crises, what do World War II and the coronavirus pandemic have in common? They both represent turning points in the history and culture of the workplace. The latter forced a sizable portion of the global white-collar workforce back to the office or indoors to work from home, whereas the former forced women out of their homes and into the workforce. The rapidly changing, tiny, but deadly virus has contributed to the broad acceptance of remote work for almost two years.
Post-pandemic work culture
Most people bemoaned the impact that working remotely had on their work-life balance during the start of the pandemic. But times have changed, and it's obvious that people now appreciate the flexibility it offers. If you encourage people to return to work, 30–40% of them might even resign if there are alternatives.
The future of white-collar employment is this hybrid work model, in which workers spend some time at the office and the rest of the time working from home. In an employee-driven economy, a prolonged, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has forced talented workers to reevaluate their priorities in life and work. This is in addition to the opening up of jobs and technologically enabled prospects for skilled workers. "The whole notion of work, workforce, and workplace has seen a substantial degree of change, and that has impacted the employee impression of the organization and what the employer value proposition is going to look like.
The hybrid model strategy is a significant one of the long-term changes in organizational design in the workplace that are being brought about by organizations being compelled to improve their arguments for why potential employees should select them. Some see this as an employee value proposition. According to experts, it allows both workers and employers the best of both worlds—flexibility and time saved on lengthy journeys, as well as space for social connections and collaborative work.
The biggest workplace upheavals prior to COVID-19 were caused by emerging technologies and expanding trade connections. For the first time, COVID-19 has increased the significance of the physical aspect of labor. By categorizing more than 800 occupations into ten work zones based on their proximity to coworkers and clients, the volume of interpersonal interactions necessary, and the fact that they are on-site and indoor, we create a novel method to estimate the proximity needed for productive work with others in those occupations.
Unlike conventional sector classifications, this provides a distinct perspective and focus on work. For instance, in our medical care industry, only caregiving positions involving intimate patient contact, such as those of doctors and nurses, are accepted. Administrative workers in hospitals and medical offices typically work in computer-based offices or outdoor spaces where more work may be done from a distance. In the field of indoor production work, lab technicians and pharmacists are employed since they need to utilize specialist equipment on the job but are rarely in contact with other people.
Changes in the Job Market
In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak affected labor markets all around the world. Millions of individuals were furloughed or lost their jobs, and others quickly adapted to working remotely from home when workplaces closed. The short-term effects were abrupt and frequently severe. Many additional employees were judged necessary and continued to work in hospitals, supermarkets, garbage trucks, and warehouses while adhering to new protocols designed to stop the spread of the unique coronavirus.
COVID-19 may propel faster adoption of automation and AI, especially in work arenas with high physical proximity.
Businesses have traditionally reduced costs and reduced uncertainty during recessions by automating tasks and revamping work processes, which reduces the proportion of positions in which employees work that involve primarily regular tasks. Two-thirds of the 800 senior executives we surveyed globally in July 2020 who were involved in business stated they were increasing their company's investment in automation and AI either somewhat or significantly. By June 2020, China's robot production would have surpassed pre-epidemic levels.
To lower worker density and adapt to demand spikes, several businesses installed automation and AI in warehouses, markets, call centers, and manufacturing facilities. According to our research, the work environments with the least productivity and highest levels of human connection are anticipated to have the greatest acceleration in the adoption of automation and AI.
The unifying characteristic of many organizations' automation use cases is their correlation with high scores on physical proximity.
The mix of occupations may shift, with little job growth in low-wage occupations.
More changes in the composition of jobs within economies may result from tendencies accelerated by COVID-19 than we first predicted before the epidemic.
After the pandemic, the occupational mix in the eight economies may look very different. In comparison to our pre-COVID-19 projections, we anticipate that employees in the food service, customer sales, and service industries, as well as less trained office workers and support professions, will be most negatively impacted by the pandemic.
The expansion of e-commerce and the delivery economy may lead to an increase in jobs in warehousing and transportation, but this gain is unlikely to make up for the loss of many low-wage positions.
The size and kind of workforce changes needed in the years to come will be difficult given the predicted concentration of job growth in high-wage occupations and reductions in low-wage occupations.
In the post-COVID-19 scenario, which is depicted in Exhibit 4, more than 100 million workers, or 1 in 16, will need to find a different occupation by 2030 across the eight focal nations. This is up to 25% more in sophisticated economies and is 12% more than what we predicted before the pandemic.
Companies and policymakers can help facilitate workforce transitions.
The urgency for business leaders and policymakers to take action to promote further training and education programs and employee satisfaction for workers is increased by the scope of workforce transformations sparked by COVID-19's influence on labor patterns, employee well-being, job satisfaction, and mental health.
Businesses and governments responded to the pandemic with purpose and ingenuity, demonstrating amazing flexibility and adaptability that they could use to retool the workforce in ways that point to a more promising future of work.
By developing talent and improving the digital infrastructure, policymakers could assist enterprises. Almost 20% of workers in rural families do not have access to the internet, even in sophisticated economies.
Governments and most companies may also think about providing benefits and safeguards to freelancers and employees who are retraining in the middle of their careers.
Businesses bring employees, and policymakers may work together to encourage employees to change careers.
A more adaptable, competent, and well-paid workforce, as well as a more strong and egalitarian society, would be the benefits of such initiatives.
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