The Future of Work: What Will Work Look Like When the Pandemic is Over?
Thursday 28th May 2020
“Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will”. This was the slogan of the Eight-hour Day movement, and it is a creed that has remained relatively steadfast throughout the last century, with the average full-time worker in the UK in 2020 working for 7.38 hours per day during the week.
While the amount of time we spend at work has changed relatively little, almost everything else about work – from the type of work we do, to the people who do it, to the importance we place on work – has drastically changed as social and demographic progress, technological development, economic events and the emergence of new business models have altered the landscape of what work looks like forever.
And this was before the world was plunged into uncertainty by the coronavirus pandemic.
For many office-dwellers, working from home has become perhaps the defining feature of the ‘new normal’. For those whose businesses simply cannot function, the word ‘furlough’ has become a new and vitally important part of their vocabulary. For those occupations deemed essential, work may be one of the very few things that feels the normal about the new reality, albeit with added health risks. Across each of these groups, the polarising effects of the pandemic are self-evident; the virus might not discriminate, but its socioeconomic implications do.
Currently, we face a health crisis, but before long, we could face an economic one. Many will not survive, others will restructure, perhaps relying more heavily on the agile business models that have given rise to the gig economy and a likely to see an acceleration in automated processes.
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