The future of work transcript
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- Episode 1 – The role of the worker
- Episode 2 – Training and developing the workforce
- Episode 3 – The role of technology in the future of work
Mon, 8/24 5:21AM • 39:40
Future of work: podcast Ep1 – The role of the worker
workers, people, pandemic, future, employers, ilias, organizations, globalization, work, company, arne, millennials, strategy, julia, culture, trade unions, skills, automation, restaurants, question
Karen Jaw-Madson, Julia Ivy, Arne Kalleberg, Ilias Livanos.
Niall Kennedy 00:15
Welcome to Emerald Publishing's podcast series on the future of work. My name is Niall Kennedy, I'm Senior Publisher for business and management at Emeralds. Today we're exploring the role of the worker in the future of work. And we're joined by four experts in different areas of work and employment to discuss current issues and potential new developments in this field. llias Livanos is an expert at the Department for skills and the labor market at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Education and Guidance, and is the author of The Rise of Precarious Employment in Europe. Arne Kalleberg is Kenan Distinguished Professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and also the chair of The Curriculum in Global Studies. He's the author of numerous books on non standard work arrangements, most recently 'Precarious Lives: Job Insecurity and Well-Being in Rich Democracies' and 'Precarious Work: Causes, Characteristics and Consequences'. Karen Jaw-Madson is a specialist in organizational culture, principle at Co.- Design of Work Experience founder of A New HR and author of the book 'Culture Your Culture'. And finally Julia Ivy is executive professor at Northeastern University and program director for the Masters of Science in International Management, and author of the book 'Crafting Your Edge For Today's Job Market. Thank you all for joining us today. I'll move on to questions on this theme. I'll address the questions directly. For the future of work, what is your view around whether we will see the traditional concepts of work continuing to break down through gig work and remote working, or do you feel there may be a retreat to more traditional and secure ways of working in the future? Maybe I can address that to Ilias.
Ilias Livanos 02:10
Okay. So I believe that at the moment, we are facing a pandemic, which will inevitably have some impacts on the forms of work. So, what we have seen so far is that there is a rise of the so called precarious work which could be framed as flexible forms of work depending on whom you ask. And we have also seen that automation is really changing everything here. So, I believe that at this stage that we are on the one hand automation is being accelerated because it is used by companies to stay safe and cut down costs and at the same time given the fact that telecom work is becoming is moving away from being a suspicious form of work as it was, at least in Europe, and maybe in some more traditional countries like Greece, is becoming the norm. And it's totally accepted. And I believe that all these things, they will actually be strengthened. And we will probably not go back to the traditional forms of work, but we never know what the future holds. But this is where I think it is going to.
Niall Kennedy 03:29
Thank you. Arne I want to get your view on that as well please.
Arne Kalleberg 03:35
Yeah, so you know, I agree with Ilias on this. I do not see a return to the 30-40 years after World War Two, which fed the standard employment relationship. In my view the key characteristic though, is that social protections were tied to this basic employment relationship in many countries. Health insurance, unemployment insurance and so on. And the rise of gig work and non standard work has made it so that people are no longer protected in that way. So I can see a variety of ways in which work is going to evolve in the future in terms of work arrangements. I could see temporary work, which is a perfectly fine kind of work. Gig work works for a lot of people. All these things are good as long as people do not lose their basic social protections when they do that kind of work. And to me, that's the key feature that we have to be looking at in the future.
Niall Kennedy 04:38
Thank you very much. Karen, I'd be interested to hear if we feel that in the future, some workers are going to need to be more adaptable or flexible in their roles. From an organizational culture point of view, how would you feel that will affect the structure of teams or departments?
Karen Jaw-Madson 04:57
I believe that the adjustments will need to be made on both sides, so from a worker perspective, as well as the employer side of things. Distributed teams are, of course now, far more common in light of this pandemic. There are companies that have always been distributed. I think part of it is establishing the way of work that supports all forms of collaboration, whether it's in person, or whether or not it's virtual. So I feel like at the end of the day, we have to be intentional about the cultures. What's been frustrating to me is people are acknowledging the impact on company culture, but what they're not doing is something about it right? Being more intentional about the culture and it goes beyond team building. It goes beyond having virtual happy hours to remain connected, it goes toward the basics. How does the company's core values get expressed in the work experience? Regardless of the environment, when when I mean by environment, I'm talking about the form of work, whether it's in person or not. So I feel like we're halfway there, the knowing is half the battle. But the piece that needs to happen is this intentional, even more so now then before, intentional, designing implementation sustainability of an intended culture.
Niall Kennedy 06:24
Thanks, Karen. Yeah, Julia, you've written on employability and I'd be keen to get your thoughts on, you know, how workers can help themselves succeed through their employability in the future of work, and also on on that last point as well around on team structure and department structure.
Julia Ivy 06:43
Yes, thank you so much. And one more point. First of all, I do agree with previous speakers, there is no way back, we all we will move forward. And one more dimension of this new equation is millennials and these are the future. At the current 50% of workforce are millennials, and by 2024 according to McKinsey, it will be 75%. And millennials have really distinct characteristics of who they are. And their multi dimensional profiles, how I define them make it's different than Generation X and baby boomers. Also, they're very much proactive in establishing their own territory, kind of their own space, and they're not willing to fit to somebody's given you know, space. And the last one, if they don't see diversity and in the company, and if they don't have a chance to be, you know, to show design thinking to shape their space to be them, them, them, them, me, me, me, they just leave, they just leave the company, and that's why we call them job hoppers. So that's why the future of work is generally two except that they are different than majority of current employers because majority of current employers are Generation X and baby boomers and if we as employers will keep giving them job descriptions will keep giving them boundaries will give them like one dimensional jobs, they will leave they will physically leave the company or they we call this internal immigration they will stay but withdraw. So, that's why we move into your second question is what employers can do. I call these methods like make your case to shape your space. We must first of all accept that they are multi dimensional, and we must welcome this like example, like I work with David. He is a professional in business and he works for an insurance company, as insurance investigation in finance. Which is his identity number one. In his garage with his wife, they devoted brewers, they make beer and they do it very well. And they compete even in the local brewers festivals in they win sometimes. But he also in Thai boxing, and he also is very serious about this he also competes. The question is, who is David? Who is David first? And if we as employers can see their David only in one dimension, we are losing. We are losing other parts of David. But if we learn to invite other parts is not like do boxing in my office, but the skills he learned in this right in other industries, and maybe not maybe but invite him to shape his own space in the company. Where he can flourish in all these dimensions and find the intersections. This, I think, will define successful employers where millennials would stay and would be engaged and I call millennials like nuclear energy, if it stays, you know, dormant, we just lose, we just lose the energy of them and we don't have the resource of them. But if we let them explore, but in a peaceful way, this is becomes huge for the company's success. This is what I think step number one for employers to accept that millennials are here. They are 50% they will be 75 soon, and they're difference. And so far, we don't like them. Unfortunately. I found data that Covid 19 people have 22% anger 22% of population who you know, survey, emotions and get 22%. About millennials? 66%. We just like we more angry angry on millennials than on Covid sometimes we are scared of Covid yeah, we are upset, we are scared, this fear, disgust, but anger? So this is what I think is a big challenge for employers and huge huge huge opportunity for employers.
Niall Kennedy 11:22
Thank you Julia, that is really interesting, especially that sort of concept of fragmentation. Arne I'd be keen to hear your thoughts around, you know, the fragmentation of a kind of worker identity. And Ilias mentioned automation, I mean, maybe around like the autonomy that the worker will have for themselves in the future.
Arne Kalleberg 11:47
Well, I think one of the characteristics that's going to define work going forward and we already see it now is there is a polarization of work and we can't really just talk about work, we have to talk about types of work. Now, I think there's been a lot of research now that suggests that there are certain kinds of jobs that will be able to be automated. But there are certain kinds of jobs that are not able to be automated. And these can be both high skilled jobs and relatively low skilled jobs. For example, moving a piano up three flights of stairs is not something that's easily automated. So there's a variety of tasks out there. And so some jobs will be automated, and some will not. And so workers, to the extent that they want autonomy and autonomy is one of the key characteristics that people want from their work and it's had enormous impact on psychological functioning and so on. The way they could do that is by obtaining skills that are less likely to be automated, and so as a result, employers will give them more autonomy and so on. So I think that is going to be a key. And that requires people to have a certain skill set. And this emphasizes, of course, the importance of education and the acquisition of skills.
Niall Kennedy 13:10
Absolutely. Ilias, following on from that, I think you touched on automation and the impact you feel that may have for the role of workers in the future. I'd love for you to talk a little bit more on that. I'd also be interested to get your thoughts around the maintenance of workers rights in the future of work, how that is going to be done, whether there's still a role for trade unions and the ways in which they can still be active in the workplace.
Ilias Livanos 13:41
Okay, so on the one hand, automation is seen as a threat to employment and particularly to those with medium level skills. Not necessarily only those but maybe to the to the larger majority than other groups of workers. As you know, machines that are brought in some jobs will inevitably be lost and at the same time digital skills will be essential and all the workers will have to adapt to the new needs, even those of a lower level of skills. But on the other hand, new jobs will be created to support the new technologies that means that there will be job creation of course, and automation will also free up time for individuals to focus on more challenging tasks that will be taken over by technology. So to a certain extent, automation is freeing up time and is mainly focusing on routine tasks. If you like for example, if you think about it, face recognition is a breakthrough that is brought by technology and it is really amazing what it can do in in a few seconds. But that means that people will have more time to stop looking at faces trying to focus and identify patterns and they can do more meaningful things. But at the same time, we have to note that work is becoming more and more complex as technology makes possible to perform many tasks at very little time. So that means we have more time to do more work. If we think about it, the tasks that my PhD supervisor 40 years ago, could do in a week. He's able to do it now in about an hour. So that's, it's really a great supporter of work, technology. But at the same time, it is creating a lot of stress to all of us. And if you think about all of us having a smartphone that means that we're accessible at any point of the day, and we feel obliged to respond, so it is quite complex what is going on there. And getting to your second question about the trade unions. I mean, it's not a secret that trade unions have been weakened. They're losing their power and this has been a trend taking place for decades now. And it does not look as if this trend is going to stop there. So I think it is now up to trade unions to really find the responses to that. And if also consider the fact that we have gig workers like platform workers, which is an emerging set of workers even though it doesn't have a big surge in total employment, but it's increasing. With a very fast pace. It will be way more difficult to secure the rights of the service workers but I think it is the responsibility of more or less everybody including the employers themselves to to secure decent work for everybody.
Niall Kennedy 16:49
Thank you Ilias. Arne, I wanted to bring you in on that as well, particularly, if the trade union role is reducing, then are there potential new ways of organizing might may come out in the future of work?
Arne Kalleberg 17:04
That's a great point. One of the reasons, probably the major reason, in my view for the growth of precarious work has been the shift in the balance of power, who are the employers away from labor, and that's really shifted the risks to workers. And so in order to rebalance the situation, there needs to be a growth of worker power. Now, trade unions have traditionally been the major source of worker power. But the trade union movement was dependent on certain things such as it was facilitated by the fact that there were a lot of people working in one place which enabled them to be organized and given the shift to a service economy, which is what we have now, given the shift to online work and the platforms and so on. We no longer have that. Yes, millennials do job hop. And so it's difficult to organize workers on that basis. So it seems to me we have to be thinking about new ways of organizing workers. We need to continue to work with the trade unions. But also skill or occupational communities, occupational based organizations, such as the craft union model in Germany would be very helpful. Organizations that take independent contractors and gig workers and provide them with things like information on how to obtain various things to put pressure on, on employers to act in certain ways to to provide insurance packages that can be negotiated on a large scale. Tying worker power to consumer power, I think is critical as well. And so there are a number of different models that we have to think about and not just depend on the on the union movement, because that's one key factor, but it's only one and the kinds of things that led to the growth of unions in the United States and in other countries in the 30s, for example, the industrial union model is really not the future of work. It's much more of a craft skill based model, it seems to me.
Niall Kennedy 19:11
Thank you, Arne. Karen, I'd like to hear from you around the culture of an organization and what can be done through an organization's culture and the way it is built or created or transformed, to actually help empower the people that work there and benefit the people that work there and help protect the people that work there. Do you have a view on that?
Karen Jaw-Madson 19:36
I do. Let me back that up by saying that there's a growing body of work that speaks to how important equity is to a prosperous future of work. And that's obviously very much tied to company culture and its equity beyond one or two dimensions, but in fact, all dimensions. Earlier Julia was talking about the anger piece. I mean, that anger piece comes with maybe feeling inequitable having some form of inequity, right, or lack of what now, we've also brought up this concept of power. So I think the cultural implications of that are at least twofold if not more. One is this empowerment of employees. And it's not necessarily just granted by their employers. It's also one that should be and has been demanded by employees. They're holding their employers to task and we've seen that in recent years with employee walkouts. We've also seen public letters written to their employers about what they are demanding to see in terms of their accountability as a company, also calling them out on their public statements, right? If so, if a company states that Black Lives Matter and they have a toxic work environment, that's incongruous between what they say and what they do. So if the future of work, the key to the future of work that is desirable to all of us is equity, then there needs to be intentional, and to my earlier point, intentional moves toward redistributing that power that we were just talking about before, because it's a win win for everybody. There's a lot of research that says, more equitable companies are more profitable are higher growth. And so there's a growing, like I said, a growing body of evidence that speaks to the value and so equity and culture are very much tied together. Having that laid out, also increases, so redistributing power and having more equity, gives people more choice. And I think fundamentally, the future of work that is more prosperous for everyone is about giving people choice.
Niall Kennedy 21:53
Julia, thank you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well, particularly around that power dynamic.
Julia Ivy 21:59
Thank you. And I absolutely echo the previous speaker that this power dynamic between millennials and any multi dimensional professionals, because these people know, first of all, we are good, like I'm one of them and you're one of them, you know that you know more than in your job description, you know this and you do have your own core your own personal strategy. So, what organizations have to change in culture is a culture of synchronization of their organizational strategy and personal strategy of their employees. Traditionally, it was hierarchy of our goals and strategies. It was corporate strategy, you know, like business strategy and we still teach like this corporate business then functional strategies and of course, employees was a kind of like in the level of implementation of all the strategies. Not anymore, because millennials first of all believes that they're kind of equal to see origin. They also know that they know what the organization can do. And honestly, they do. They sometimes do because they think differently. So new culture should be, like constant synchronization, which I believe has three roles. The first is, it should be at pace, first of all it's dynamic. It's not static. It's not like we define the goals and that's it. And people are resources. We call this human resource for implementation of this big big strategy, millennials are not a resource anymore, and they don't want to be a resource. They can see the company actually as a resource for their strategy. So this is upside down approach, have fewest base like step number one, step number two, step number three, step number four, which build around specific problems. If the company's share is it's tough to be sold, and people who work jump in and offer their own solutions in a kind of almost brown movement. And this helps people again shape their own space and realize their own personal strategies. So this is a major shift for organizations, major shift, which I so far we don't see so much. But right now we start, we are planning to start the project with the city of Boston, where the companies used to be very nuclear, especially ethnic restaurants. They were fine. They had their loyal customer base and when the economy was good, everything was good. And they were not very much interested in other groups of people, you know, like beyond their customer base. Now, when the situation is so bad for restaurants, they kind of have to be more open to other ideas. First people who they have to ask for other ideas, maybe beyond restaurant industry, maybe some kind of brilliant idea of IT to the industry, and maybe somebody who is working right now in this restaurant because he is a student in our system or in the Boston University, etc. And he might have these ideas and just ask him to bring you some other ideas to this restaurant and shape your space here. So you see the restaurant instead of treating this employee who might be working in the kitchen as a resource to treat this with synchronizing what your personal strategy is, what you want to do in life with the success of my organization.
Niall Kennedy 25:41
I'd like to just follow up with you, Julia on a slightly tangential point, and that relates to globalization and in the future of work whether we perceive that that might continue a pace as it has done for many years, or if things could become more localized in terms of the view of companies in terms of workers actually physically traveling for work, I'd be interested to hear your view. And I'll open up to the rest of the panel.
Julia Ivy 26:15
And actually, it's what we do with our projects with our methods. We allow our graduates to choose whatever organizations they want to target maybe to shape their space in. And this organization can be anywhere. So right now, students who are in the United States, shaping their spaces in the companies in China, in the companies in India. So all this technology really makes them the competition in the workforce, become not so much local for higher level for problem solving jobs, but global which doesn't have to be physically global. But I agree with previous speakers that there are several types of jobs some jobs would never become global, like piano on the third floor. You have to be local, but problem solving, design thinking, digital technology, it's all very much.
Niall Kennedy 27:16
I'll bring in Ilias if I may on that question of globalization versus localization.
Ilias Livanos 27:22
I think that the situation here is less clear cut. On the one hand with the revolution that platforms such as Zoom and Teams and so on, they have brought, they make it possible for workers to stay home and reduce traveling, even for going to work not to say for business trips and so on. So that means that they can have more meetings globally. So on that end, globalization is actually intensified. And at the same time, we have online shopping that is becoming dominant. So it is actually possible to order anything from anywhere in the world. Now on the other hand, we have less travel so some sectors such as transport, retail, restaurants will inevitably be hurt significantly, but some local economies will be strengthened. So I think it will have two sides of the coin of the same coin, of course, and it is simply not possible to determine the overall outcome. And I would like to put forth an example here of an occupational like a profession that we would think is very local, but actually, the pandemic is proving otherwise if we think about art workers, and if I may use the example of magicians, which are some art workers that are not only performing in large or small theaters, like the other art workers, but they also do table hopping in weddings, bars and restaurants. So what they would actually do, they would go and they would intrude the private space of people and their profession will entail a lot of touching and a lot of speaking from close proximity and so on. But now with the pandemic many of them have involved in their offering zoom shows and they do online teaching. So in some sense, they're becoming global and then a man has to go from almost completely non digital to fully digitalized. Whereas at the same time, some others have the same professional, they're just waiting for the pandemic to end. So they start, again, their operation. So again, I would just say again, that it is really difficult to determine what will be the overall outcome of all this.
Niall Kennedy 29:30
Yeah, absolutely. It's a fascinating example Ilias. Arne what is your take around globalization, localization dichotomy that could go on for the future?
Arne Kalleberg 29:41
Yeah, as Ilias says, this is a complicated situation, and it's not easy to predict what's going to happen. I think, as was mentioned, one of the I think the long term impacts of COVID of the of the pandemic is that we're going to do more meetings like this, you know, Zoom and Microsoft Teams and Google chats and so on. So I think people are realizing that we don't have to go travel to go someplace in order to meet somebody, it's much more efficient not to. Globalization in terms of the movement of capital, in terms of the movement of products, I think is probably going to be with us. But I think one of the trends that I see happening that's going to have an impact is the the rise of nationalism here and the restriction of borders. You see it in England with moving out of the EU. We see it in the United States with this America first policy. So and the building of tariff barriers and so on, it seems to me that there is a counter movement toward globalization and while outsourcing dominated much of the thinking of managers in the 80s and the 90s, moving toward cheaper places to produce goods for example. Now I start to see more insourcing. And actually some of the returning of these outsourced things back into the, into the country in order to become more self sufficient. And that's sort of a counter trend to this whole thing. So I think there are two counter trends here, which makes it difficult. Globalization obviously, is always going to be the case, but the shape it takes is going to change.
Niall Kennedy 31:28
Thank you. Yeah. And Karen, and maybe you could also speak to this in terms of organizations and their approach from a globalized economy perspective, a local one, and are there ways in which they should be thinking about the culture that they foster when it comes to these issues?
Karen Jaw-Madson 31:46
I just wanted to take a second to respond to some of the things that were just said, around globalization versus localization. But let me just follow up with what Arne was saying. This move toward nationalism. My perspective happens to believe that nationalism is counterproductive because even speaking for my own country, we have gaps that we can't fill immediately. And when we need that we need to have it filled from elsewhere. The globalization piece, obviously is a complex challenge. I think some of the things that companies need to think about is that there's this concept of if workers are coming from anywhere and everywhere, what does that mean for compensation, for example? So this whole concept of globally fair compensation is something that's come to the dialog now. The other piece I've learned from the real estate industry as they start to consider the implications of real estate as it relates to work, is that this aspect of migration that's a huge part of future of work but rarely gets the attention, is in this migration as it relates to workers of all different persuasions. So low, medium and high skilled workers, there are migration patterns that influence the future of work. And so as a result of that real estate, as an industry has to figure out well, what does that mean for us? Where should we invest as a result of that? And the answer, one perspective that I've seen is you have to follow the people. So we talk about the adjustments that workers have to make, there's a lot of and I'm re emphasizing this. There's also this give and take here where I think forward looking organizations need to consider what employers need to do and prepare for ahead of time, so that they can react and collaborate as opposed to fight what's happening, going on. So there are of course, cultural implications to all of this. Where if we are more global, if we become more global or even if we become more say we swing in either direction if we become more nationalistic or localized, as opposed to global, the importance of core values in a particular organization, and the implementation of those values and culture and employee experience, are going to determine whether or not they have the top talent that they need to perform the innovation and the productivity and the work required to be a successful business.
Niall Kennedy 34:27
Thank you. Well, we've already touched on some aspects of the final question I was hoping to ask, which is a big one talking about our use of Zoom and other technologies and whether things are going to become more localized. But I'd be really keen and I think that we have to reflect on the current pandemic and what we can see that doing to the future role of the worker. I realize it's a bit of a crystal ball gazing question, but it's obviously having a huge industrial and economic impact at the moment. And I'd be really interested to get the thoughts of you all on the ways in which it could shake out in terms of organization, in terms of industrial relations, in terms of movement of workers, all those pieces. So Arne, maybe I can come to you first on this issue?
Arne Kalleberg 35:25
Okay, well, we've touched on some of these things, which is that we're going to be doing more virtual meetings and so on. And obviously there are some short term impacts and long term impacts. I think the short term impacts are reflected in the travel industry, but people will go to restaurants again, they're doing it now. They'll fly again. They'll even be able to go from the US to the EU again, someday, so that's gonna, that's I think it's gonna shake itself out. What I find interesting is that workers who are now deemed essential are often the lowest paid most put upon people in the world. I mean, the grocery clerks, the janitors, the people that are basically that the care workers, the people who take care of people in nursing homes and so on. These workers are very low paid. And so it seems to me that this is going to be one of the things that's going to stay with us now, two years from now, are we going to remember that we needed these workers now? Or are we going to pay them a living wage? We need to do that. I think a second thing is going to be a call for more protections for workers that are not related to the kind of work they do. And so the idea that you have to work for a large company in the United States, for example, to get good health insurance and so on. I think that is going to be a demand because we see with the with the unemployment rate being so high, you know, people need these benefits that are not tied to the workplace. And finally, I think another long term impact is going to be this is an opportunity, it seems to me for the power to shift back to labor and the idea that employers really need to take into account people's interests and their needs and so on in order to be successful. So I think while the pandemic is a terrible thing, and many people have suffered, I think there can be some positive benefits from this in the future.
Niall Kennedy 37:28
Thank you Arne. Julia, your thoughts on the pandemic and what it's going to mean in the future for the worker.
Julia Ivy 37:38
Thank you. While pandemic is a horrible, horrible, horrible tragedy, what happens to people, families and economies, I agree that it's also a huge opportunity for people to raise their voice and I think it could be a real shift in the power of workforce. Not in the way like, oh, people must have more voice and employers must listen them, etc. Right now I told you I finished my presentation of a CEO club when they have to fire somebody, but they wanted to keep people who want to take ownership for something may be what goes beyond the job. And this gig economy, I think will become a nature of large corporations as well. So even working for the company, I think we will become more and more giggy, I would say and more and more ad hoc structures and very much project oriented. And it will be very wonderful opportunity for some people and the end of a safety net for others, which I believe is kind of fine. We have to rely on our talents and find our talents and be there for our talents. Yeah, and we have them we have them.
Niall Kennedy 38:59
Interesting thank you. Karen, your perspective on the pandemic and what it's going to mean for the worker of the future.
Karen Jaw-Madson 39:07
Yeah, I think there's obviously a clear impact in what this pandemic has done. What we've seen is, again, conversations where people now believe that the future of work is here, I'm sure you've read the headlines, the future of work is here all overnight because of what happened with the pandemic. I don't necessarily believe that holistic future of here has happened. It's changed in some respects. But what it has done is created our present has become the past future of work. And now we need to think about the new future of work. Our starting point is different because of this pandemic. And what I believe has been the biggest challenge around the future of work is the lack of an integrated strategy. There's people looking at the future of work from all different perspectives and angles. There's nothing that's brought together all of this, to be able to have an integrated approach which we are affecting and intentionally shaping a culture. And that's really why we are in this field, right? Because we want to be able to positively influence the future of work that can't be done in small groups that needs to be done in whole communities. And I think that's what we need to take away. This pandemic has been a great equal... well, I don't think it's an equalizer because there's a lot of inequities that have been uncovered as a result of this. But this is a problem that everyone around the world has to deal with. And I think the future of work is something that everyone globally has a hand in. And so I think that's the biggest need that's raised up as it relates to the future of work and the pandemic and what it's done to us. So if we want this more equitable future, a more choice filled future where basic needs are met, it's going to need more organized strategy around it. So that's, that's my belief. So yes, I have the culture angle. But there's all these other angles in which we need to make sure right, that we didn't talk a lot about governmental and legislative bodies of work, that has an influence as well. We didn't talk about gender, you know, what are the implications on parenthood and social roles outside of work and how they influence work. So, I just think that there's so much work to be done and this pandemic has really highlighted the needs out there and actually also the potential.
Niall Kennedy 41:42
Yes, absolutely. Ilias, maybe I could give you the last word on on this particular question. I don't know if you have a perspective or thoughts on the pandemic and what it might mean for the future of work and workers.
Ilias Livanos 41:59
Not sure there's too much left to say here. But I could say that the pandemic might be seen as an opportunity, it could be an opportunity for us workers to, let's say, discover potential and what we can do and how we can improve ourselves. It could be an opportunity for the organizations to prioritize their needs, because in these difficult times, you're able to understand what are really the the pressing issues and give priority to these that sometimes they're overlooked. And people usually stick to specific roles, and they overlook some more humane issues, if I may say. And also it's very important to acknowledge other's contributions. It was already mentioned about the importance of precarious workers as typically art workers that everybody was relying for their entertainment during the lockdown. Also, their contribution of care workers of health care workers that some of them are low paid. So I think is a good opportunity to, of course it's a terrible thing, that aside, though, it's a good opportunity to take a step back and really think this through and appreciate the situation we're in and then that will help us, you know, move back to the right direction for the future.
Niall Kennedy 43:15
Thank you Ilias. And thank you to all the panel: Julia, Arne, and Karen, for being involved in this discussion today, and thank you for listening to the podcast. In the next podcast in the future work series. We're going to be discussing developing training and supporting the current workforce, for the future of work. Hope you can join us.
FOW Podcast Ep2 – Training and developing the workforce
Mon, 8/24 5:21AM • 39:40
people, development, brian, industry, australia, ann, learning, work, management, universities, training, peter, technology, future, remote, employer, important, understand, issues, terms
Ann Brewer, Brian Howieson, Peter Holland
Niall Kennedy 00:18
Welcome to Emerald's podcast series on the future of work. My name is Niall Kennedy, and I'm Senior Publisher for business and management at Emerald Publishing. Today we're exploring developing, training and supporting the current workforce for the future world of work. We're joined by three leading experts in different areas of work and employment to discuss issues and potential new developments in this field. Ann M. Brewer is an educational advisor and consultant establishing a multiversity for the NUW alliance in Australia. She's the former dean of the University of Newcastle in Sydney and former Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Sydney. She's a specialist in the application of behavioral science in organizational settings and the author of numerous books most recently 'Careers: Thinking, Strategizing and Prototyping', which appeared in Emerald's Future of Work series. Peter Holland is professor of human resource management and director of the Executive MBA at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. He's the author and editor of books examining human resource management, including 'Contemporary HRM Issues in the 21st Century', and an expert in the influence of technology on human resource practices. Brian Howieson is a professor and head of management in the business school at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. He has broad experience of leadership theory and practice and public and third sector leadership and management. He is the author of 'Leadership: The Current State of Play' and the editor in chief of the Journal of Management Development. Thank you all for joining us today for this discussion. Brian, I was hoping I might be able to start with you. And I'd like to get your thoughts around the concept of management development as it pertains to this issue. What is successful management development? What does that look like? And what can it offer to businesses tackling challenges that may come up in the future world of work?
Brian Howieson 02:21
I think it's such a very good question this because as editor in chief of the Journal of Management Development, I think about this at length. What do we mean by the development of management? And therefore, next year, we're going to have a special issue in this very regard about what exactly do we mean by management development? But there are two I think, answers to this question. The first one is we've got to understand the challenges and challenges to me notwithstanding COVID could be anything from the management challenges, sustainability. So in other words, helping people with the knowledge, the skills, the values and behaviors to understand sustainability development goals. I think we've got to be very interested in cross cultural competencies. For example, understanding human rights, gender equality, global citizenship, and how this impacts on the global workforce. I think we've really got to understand a lot more about ethical and social responsibility in light of COVID, this whole idea even before COVID, this whole idea of resiliant and flexible approaches to learning, I think leadership is always on the agenda as what does it look like? What's it feel like for managers? And I think we're seeing lots more interdisciplinarity of working required. So I think, first of all, we've got to just understand the challenges and how we develop managers is to help them in my view, understand a lot of these issues and help them start to understand how to start the conversations with themselves in this regard. And it goes back to the editorial we put out in the January edition of JMD was asking what do we mean by development? I think understanding development is key here, and why we want to develop managers. So for me, a lot of it is about individual development in these areas and understanding how we enrich, how we adapt, and how we help managers start the conversation with themselves to take on these challenges.
Niall Kennedy 04:31
I appreciate it's a tough one to lead off on straight away, Brian, but I wanted to take from what you were saying there and zero in on that question of development. And linked to that is training and I wanted to ask you, Ann. You've written on careers, and that sort of development and training piece, I think is quite important thinking about the future of work particularly around the sort of soft skills that employees might need, are they going to be more important? And is it going to be more important to be sort of flexible, adaptable in the future world of work in your view?
Ann Brewer 05:07
Definitely, Niall. I think if we talk about the soft skills, I think as we're now in industry 4.0, well into it, and it's really ramping up. And as Brian talked about, sort of interdisciplinary, I think what we're seeing in industry 4.0 is sort of a transdisciplinary, a transfusion of not just about disciplines mixing, but it's also being across different disciplines. In other words, it's not, you know, if we're talking about engineering, you probably also need to know something about information or design or other areas. And I think the soft skills are and again, this sort of the blending of what we call hard skills and soft skills. I personally don't like the term soft skills because i think if i rattle off some of the soft skills like problem solving, critiquing, empathy, ethical leadership, coordination, decision making. They're very tough and they're learned through experience. So it really does come back to how do we do management development today? How do we develop managers? In the past I think, decades ago, we sent people off to courses or they had enterprise based training. And while that's still relevant, I think the learning today of developing is really through experience. So action learning is very important, giving people the opportunity to involve themselves in specific projects and teams. Being able to receive constructively 360 degree feedback, job rotation, providing it has purpose, and it's valued by the participants I think is very important. And that's what I mean by sort of working on specific projects where they feel they're learning new things, but they're also having to get on with people. They're having to coordinate they're having to network and build their relationship skills. They're having to make decisions on the run and also take risks. And I mean, take risks about, you know, seizing opportunities, because that's actually what's going to happen much more we're going to have to be, COVID's taught us that we have to be very inventive, come what may.
Niall Kennedy 07:20
Absolutely. Thank you, Ann. Peter, I wonder if I could bring you in there and to get your thoughts around the development and training side of things. I'd be particularly interested to get your perspective when it comes to technology and its link to training and whether there are opportunities there, potential issues there. What that means for companies in terms of their budgets and the thing that Ann touched on in terms of the sort of outsourcing of training versus in house training. What are your thoughts around those?
Peter Holland 07:54
I'll try and also link it into what Brian and also Ann have said is that I think it's a really interesting point to first say what is development? I was listening to that going I've been unpacking that over the last three or four years after spending over 20 years teaching postgraduates. And also as well, generally the age is getting younger and younger. So they come in to do a master's degree with less experience and that used to be the balance, you've got some experience but no qualifications. Now you've seen people with a lot of qualifications and no experience and I've increasingly moved over to the action learning. And in that context with both development and action learning, I've actually got involved with a company here that has a simulator, and I've put my postgraduate students through their capstone course we put them in a simulator for a day. And when I first did, it really shocked me that I had students who had work experience and when we put them in a good HR situation we used was a bullying situation. They actually were given a tour of the place. They then walked around the corner and found the bullying situation going on. The bully was very aggressive when they interviewed him as managers. The bullied person was just shot to pieces. And they couldn't actually cope with the situation. If you gave them a book, they could tell you exactly what to do. But when they were actually faced with a situation like a critical incident like that, they didn't know how to deal with it. So I've increasingly got involved in this type of training, action learning, which is using actors and also uses 3d. So you can move through a building, if you're looking at health and safety type issues, and you can create situations. So I think it's fantastic if you can use technology now. Because if you've got skills, you can test your skills, if you don't have skills, then it creates that skill inside of you that if you get in this bullying situation again, you know that okay, within the simulator in a safe environment, I know what worked and what didn't work. So I think this combination of action learning and technology is likely to be the cutting edge of training and management development in the future.
Niall Kennedy 09:55
Thank you, Peter. Ann, I think you would like to come back in on that?
Ann Brewer 09:59
Yes I'd really like to pick up on a couple of Peter's points, particularly the last one where you've got the sort of combination of technology and know how people skills. And so just to use the term industry 4.0, what we're seeing is a fusion of technology and applications and simulators are a great example of that. So what it's allowing, and it really goes to the question that you're asking Niall about budgets and whether you outsource or insource with AI and AR and these apps, we've actually got the opportunity to customize development, to personalize it, and to make it more relevant to the specific areas that people might be working in. It's also highly accessible and it can be also delivered in just in time. And as Peter's example showed, it's learning in situ. It's learning in context, which is very valuable and impactful and is more likely to be remembered by the participants than before.
Niall Kennedy 10:59
Thank you Ann. Brian, have you also got a view around the use of this technology and its impact on the development of workers?
Brian Howieson 11:07
Just before I go there, I revisited, Niall, the editorial in the Journal of Management Development in January, when we tried to tease out that word development. And just to go back development's a complex, contested, ambiguous term rather. And what we're trying to say development moves beyond the provision of training towards a deeper or higher level of learning, which implies development is a both personal and professional change. And just finally, the Cambridge dictionary offer some help here. And it defines development as a process in which someone grows or changes and becomes more advanced. So I suppose what we're trying to do here as the context in which we all work in changes rapidly. I think what we're all about here is trying to help people develop themselves as individuals and as professionals towards a deeper level of learning because little learnings continue to be as an individual or as an organization, as a learning organization, so how do we do it? That could be, well, yes, technology, why would we not use technology really? So I think we must not lose sight of what we're trying to do when we develop managers.
Niall Kennedy 12:17
Absolutely. And maybe I could just ask another question and sort of zoom out to a sort of macro level and ask about we're obviously we're talking to you andn you're, in different countries, different regions of the world, different political and governmental setups. But in terms of courses, when it comes to professional development, we're obviously looking at a pretty stark picture at the moment off the back of the COVID pandemic and what that might mean economically and I'd be keen to get your view on what can be done on a government level to help people from across society get access to those opportunities, I'd be interested to get your perspective Ann, and Peter's as well, from the Australian context.
Ann Brewer 13:04
I think governments at a macro level could do better at perhaps connecting and linking the various policies. So we have, let's say, the education and training policy in Australia, as I'm sure you've got in the UK, you know, we have one for higher Ed, one for vocational, one for school. So there's the linkages just between the various education sectors for a start. But then there's the link of those policies, the education policies, to the employment and industry policies. And so again, within the employment policies, you've got a number of sectors and different aspects. And each policy tends to be sort of targeted something else. And then you've got the industry policy and the national priorities of any country. So again, what I'm talking about is the inter linkages within the policy area. But also the inter linkages between the policies. And often that's difficult because you've got different ministers and different portfolios carrying that. Now, the reason for this is important and COVID's pointed this out very well to us. In Australia, we've discovered what we knew was happening that, you know, manufacturing is now at about 6% of our GDP compared to 30%. in the past. And so if you're actually trying to encourage people to go into STEM, at the school level, and at the higher Ed level, then you've also got to be encouraging and providing research opportunities for building solutions in the onset, say, the manufacturing side or the science side, so that we're actually building the industry base so that when we have the graduates, they've got something to graduate to. And also if we're talking about work integrated learning, which is part of the job ready graduate package, then you need to have people being able to study and learn in context while they study. So I think that's sort of gone from a very macro to sort of coming down to the micro level. And then if we go down to the very micro level, then I think there have got to be some incentives for individuals to learn. And in this day and age when we have young people who are often carrying, learned debt, you know, high housing costs, commuting costs, all of those things, running a family, childcare, and then we're asking them to retrain, reskill, cross skill, upskill then there has to be some incentives, not just of time but also perhaps financial.
Niall Kennedy 15:35
Peter, I'd love to get your perspective as well on what Ann's been saying and maybe as well, you mentioned about the the sort of qualifications versus experience deficit. I think this is relevant here too. I think
Peter Holland 15:48
I think the important thing to pick up on and is that out of the OECD countries, Australia continually ranks bottom every year for university industry collaboration, and that is fundamental to what Ann was saying is that if the universities and industry are like oil and water with each other, how do you handle, the government needs to try and facilitate some relationship. In terms of how does industry speak to universities and how do universities speak to industry. And they both just seem to go along in parallel. Universities are seen as a hothouse for creating people for industry. And industry doesn't see the relevance of university research in terms of what they do. So I think that's a really important issue we have to deal with in Australia because we're consistently at the bottom of the OECD for that. Trying to get around it and like Ann, going to a micro level is the, there's a push within universities, pre COVID, for micro credentialing, where you try and say to people, well, you know, if you want to get some skills from a university, but you don't want to do 16 units over four years, how do we get to a situation where they can do a unit here or a unit there and give them some sort of qualification or credentialism for it, that universities see relevant, and also the industry sees relevant. And again, you could be talking about management development or leadership, we'd like you to go and do a couple of units on management, development and leadership. And the university will give you some form of certificate and you have picked up these key skills that you want. And you can go back to industry. So that might be one way of pulling industry and universities closer together. In Australia, certainly.
Niall Kennedy 17:35
Yeah, absolutely. Brian, maybe I can come back to you on this now, and I'm conscious that I was talking about the UK context. But of course, you're in Scotland where education matters are devolved. So there's obviously a duality going on there. And I know that you have a background as an academic of working with different professional bodies, whether that's physicians or it's the football, Scottish Football Association and there's obviously professional development done through them. Is that something that can be spread out to other industries better in your view?
Brian Howieson 18:13
This is an area that I'm very interested in Niall, for a variety of reasons. I entered academia mid career. And I think an awful lot about the relationship between academia and practice. And I think to echo the views of Australia, I think we can do better in the UK. While my colleagues were talking there the UK have published, the UK has published rather, talking about UK context and industrial strategy that was published in 2019. And it tries to understand and it talks about grand challenges for the UK; AI, the data economy, the future mobility, clean growth and an ageing society. And it tries to locate the industrial strategy within there. I think universities must play into that agenda and I think as well about what is the purpose of universities, business schools, schools of management, is it to educate undergraduates or postgraduates? What kind of bothers me is that a lot of the small and medium sized enterprises in the UK post COVID will probably not come to business school. So still go back to the Big Four, for business advice, and there's something missing there. Why do SMEs in central Scotland feel that they get business advice from the Big Four consultancies and not business schools? And I think we've kind of lost our way perhaps in that regard that perhaps we're probably just under educating undergraduates, or postgraduates so I think we've got to think very hard about the purpose of a business school, the purpose of a school of management, what we're trying to do. I'm very interested in executive education. I'm very interested in CPD. I'm very interested in this idea of micro teaching credentialing. And I do, perhaps I'm very interested in seeing it into practice. And therefore I think the micro credentialing is becoming very, very important. And I think that is one thing business schools can do. And, and that's across the UK. And that's globally really. And business schools in Scotland and are not really different from business schools and say New South Wales. I think we've got to, I think it'd be very important that we re examine our purpose and what we're trying to do, and to think about our audiences at large and link in with things like the industrial strategy, and to actually link in how we develop the countries in which we are located.
Niall Kennedy 20:39
Absolutely. Thank you, Brian. I wonder if we could return to the workplace and, and also the theme of technology and I'd like to ask you, Peter, about some of the uses of technology in the future work both currently and potentially looking off into the future for good, and possibly for ill, depending on your view in terms of the use of technology to monitor workers, the use of remote working and allowing people more flexibility, the growth in artificial intelligence and what that means for a HR department or an individual working from home or at their desk. What are the possibilities there? And what are the kind of issues and concerns in your view?
Peter Holland 21:24
You obviously know because of the work I've done, I do look at the dark side of monitoring and surveillance. I can give a good example and it links into this is that as I talked to, before I talk I work with this company, Master Builders in Australia who do have a simulator, and obviously we were shut down and they were shut down - wicked problem, wicked solution - we actually set up a scenario where we ran the scenario on Zoom. So all the students were on Zoom, and a couple of the actors were Interstate, it worked to trade. So they've now conceptualized that training doesn't have to be about their South Melbourne based headquarters and bringing people in. Through us, they've now learned, as Brian said about learning organizations that they can package this up. And they can now have people who are on oil rigs off the Australian North Coast, Zooming in to training with the CEO or other people from the organization. So these disparate organizations across this country, they've never realized they can bring them all together. So we've helped in that sense, so university and industry got together we Zoomed it, and it works so that there's always learning opportunities. And with the way we did the the scenario, I won't go into it too much, but it was because of pandemic they had to sack someone and when they realized they had to do it, you could see the visceral reaction. So just because you're on Zoom, it didn't mean you didn't have a learning experience. The other side of this that concerns me is have you talked about AI generally, is that I've currently been asked to do a chapter on on remote working and I thought I'm actually living the experience like everyone else. I'm hearing stories of people being asked to download software onto their home computer so they can be monitored in terms of their mouse movements, their typing, and also to take pictures of them. So they're actually at the computer. And if they're not seem to be doing anything for two minutes, then an email is generated via their boss to ask them what they're doing, or they get logged off and they're not paid. So, the issue of trust is interesting because we've all been forced to work remotely, not because our employers think that this is the future and, as Ann said, we're in the fourth industrial revolution. We can do this Zoom and Teams were all available pre pandemic, but no managers, mainly in Anglo Australian countries, in particular, had the trust mechanisms to say I trust my workers to work at home. The government has forced you to push your workforce at home. But now even despite that, people are still having these issues of being monitored and surveilled and monitored and surveilled in their own home where they often think this is literally my castle. This is where I can be away from work and I can control Work and now they find they can't control work. So there's some interesting themes emerging out of the remote shutdown and AI type issues.
Niall Kennedy 24:08
Thank you, Peter. Ann, I'd be interested to hear your view, particularly on that trust piece, and maybe what it means longer term for careers. And I was also just wanting to give an anecdote from an interview that I heard with Sir Cary Cooper, who's a leading HR thinker of many years, he was talking about this idea of while there will be the opportunities for remote working, there could also be an inverse presenteeism, where people sort of feel if they're being seen whether it's being snapped by an AI system online or actually physically being in the office as much as possible might engender them more to a management strata. What do you feel around those issues?
Ann Brewer 24:49
I think it's interesting, because in Australia, I think you've got the same in the UK during COVID we were asked the government set up an app and we were asked to do download it onto our phones. And you know, there needed to be a sort of a particular take up rate. Well, I think the take up rate, the downloading has been less than was expected. So what I'm saying is that people, if they have the choice, they will make decisions around this. And if you ask yourself, why are they not responding is because of this trust issue. But if we look at trust from another perspective, we now have multiple data points from the time you put your pass at the door of the office to let yourself in is a data point. The camera probably picks you up in the lobby, that's a data point. The time you switch on your IT, put your password in, it's another data point. You're using social media, it's a data point. So we've got all this massive information and we also have big data. And that, again, people are very concerned about it, not only because of trust and privacy breaches, but also the hackers and all of that kind of thing. So there's fear around this, but what I ask is we have all this data coming in all this information - what are we learning from it? Where's the analytics occurring? To understand how we might incentivize training and development and improve that for people? How does it improve workplace culture? So I think there's a lot of data lying around and a lot of information, which is either lying fallow or being used for the purposes that Peter pointed out. Whereas in fact, if we were using it, in order to enhance or improve working life, then it might start to balance that distrust people say, oh, actually, I can see a purpose for this. But when we just collect the data, or ask that we download the app, and then the app is not being utilized in the way that you know we thought it would, then then distrust is actually magnified. On the remote learning or remote working rather Freudian slip, because both are synonymous, I think! Remote working again is now a negotiable term. In other words, we have terms in the employment contract. And I think remote working will, in fact, be a negotiable term and particularly post COVID. Because we can, we've seen it can work. We've seen the improvement in commuting times, and also inclusion. And we've seen that now some people can hardly wait to get back to work, but increasingly people say, oh, gee, this actually this has worked for me, you know, able to spend more time with the family and blend it so on. So I think it is something that we will see people negotiating around as a condition of employment much more than we have in the past.
Brian Howieson 27:41
Niall, can I just add something?
Niall Kennedy 27:43
Absolutely, please do Brian.
Brian Howieson 27:45
I think, what's been very interesting about COVID is, as we see the shutdown of the industrial cities as we see, perhaps the flights, diminishing this perhaps in nature has come to the fore. So perhaps the skies are a bit cleaner, bluer, the air is fresher, we are rediscovering the idea of walking and, and nature is a good thing. And I think that might be a bit of a shock for us an external shock that we don't want to go back to the way we were working. So I think that's quite interesting. The less traffic, less pollution, it comes back to sustainability. I'm kind of interested in this whole idea of the future of work. And my view has been for a long time, I'm paid to do work as opposed to attend work and as you know Niall, I've been line-managed for a long time, I've never been very uncomfortable with presenteeism or face time, because if we're output-based, we've got to trust, we've got to trust. I trust you to do work. Now there's these procedures we can use if you don't use work because we've got to recognize that we're output-based, if the work gets done. I don't like the whole micro managing concept and we've got a kind of HR system on my computer in office and it makes me quite nervous. Because I don't need to be monitored. Thank you very much. I regard myself as a self starter, self empowered and I will work. And probably I'll work too much if truth be known. So I think this whole trust thing in the future of work is a big issue. And as people as Ann says, as we work more from home, we are empowered more. So therefore we've got to examine the leadership demand around the problems of micromanagement, which really concerns me.
Niall Kennedy 29:31
Yeah, absolutely. Peter, do you have some comments following on from Brian?
Peter Holland 29:36
Yeah, just picking up on just again enhancing what Brian was saying is that when he said about you know, we've learned a new way of working there was a major investigation on the telly in Australia this week, Four Corners, which is an investigative program, talking about the future of airlines because Virgin collapsed in Australia leaving Qantas by themselves and the head of Qantas said, Virgin has now been bought by another company, he said Virgin is not my fear in terms of competition, it's Zoom and Teams, because executives have now worked out they don't have to fly. I think Melbourne and Sydney is now, well before COVID was actually the busiest route in the world. Qantas will be very concerned that people are saying, well hang on, I can just Zoom, Brian and Niall. I can, I don't need to get on a plane. And also with work, it's a three hour commute round trip if I go to work. So I found three extra hours in my day that I don't have to commute for. So I think there will be fundamental change. And just on top of this, Finland was ahead of the game. And on the first of January this year, Finland brought in a new workplace act where you could negotiate 50% of your time where you worked. And basically we're saying it's not about, like Brian said, it's not about going to work. It's doing the work. And that's the subtle but fundamental shift.
Niall Kennedy 30:52
Yeah. Ann have you got some comments around this issue, which is a really big one, and what's something else I'd be interested to get perspectives on and maybe you can speak to this Ann is if we are anticipating a change to remote working or even wider spread remote working, do we feel the need to do development of those workers? Is it even more important? Does it become more difficult? And how could we facilitate that better?
Ann Brewer 31:18
Well, I think what Brian and Peter just said, what they've pointed out, and I'd like to underscore is that what COVID has taught us all remote working, is that it gives us back control. So it gives the employee back some control. And when we start to feel that we are in control, or even oh, my goodness, I can steer this myself, I can actually organize my own time I can coordinate providing I'm delivering, as Brian said, he's self motivated, he will just do it. And I think once we give people back control, they start to take control. And I think this is important for what I call prototyping careers. It's really that we're in the driver's seat we're the fundamental designers of our future work, and how we actually navigate through that, whether that's to fulfill ourselves, you know, seeking a fulfilling life for ourselves or to impact others. And I think as I said earlier, it changes the nature of the employment contract. In other words, both the employer and the employee has if you like, different controls. But if you actually look at this sort of the balance or the ratio of controls, it's quite equal around the ratio. And is, in fact, some of those controls are very similar. So for careers, I think of the future the biggest changes are flexibility, uncertainty, all of those things. But the same is true for the employer. The whole notion of flexibility, security, uncertainty, they're both navigating what those things mean. And when they come to actually think about, am I going to work with you or for you, or for me, those things are highly negotiable today.
Niall Kennedy 32:58
And I suppose as well if we are anticipating seeing a fracturing of traditional working roles or traditional career views, are employers going to be as keen on development and training their workforce if people might be working on a gig basis? Something along those lines that, do you have a view on on that, Peter, or any follow on comments from Ann there?
Peter Holland 33:24
Brian and Ann will know more about this than I do but most of the models we see about careers today are protean portfolio kaleidoscope, where it's all about people conceptualizing the jobs they do into a career the words like authenticity come out and, and balance and challenge. But the irony, of course, for employers when we talk about oh, will employees accept it, I've never come across a survey yet that has shown anything but workers improve their productivity, and they're likely to stay in the company more if they have more control over how when and where they work. Everything indicates it's a positive for both the company and the employees. So it's interesting in that respect. The point you pick up there about the dislocation with AI and stuff like that is interesting because work with artificial intelligence, we go to the gig economy. In some companies, it's actually you're being managed by an algorithm. And if you're an employee, how do you interact with an algorithm? How do you identify people's training needs? And there is a real interesting schism coming there. If we continually separate work and employment, when you were employed, and you would expect some training, and they would support you in that. But if you just work for a certain amount of hours, then it's up to you. You're effectively a contractor. And this is where that while it's been a great debate in the legal fraternity in both Australia and the UK, whether you're an employee or an employer, that is so significant to training and development for your career.
Niall Kennedy 34:47
Ann, I think you'd like to come back in there.
Ann Brewer 34:49
I'd like to come in at two levels. Firstly, the micro and then the macro level and pick up on something that Brian said earlier, and that is that what Peter's just outlined is that there is going to be a greater demand for transparency, not just from employees directly, but from the community, but also more protections. And we've seen that with a whole host of things that have come out just whether it's Black Lives Matter, the Me Too movement, the climate change movement, that people are wanting protections, as well as greater transparency for the sorts of monitoring and how this is going to be used. There's got to be greater transparency about a whole range of other things, the protections and so on, that I think people will ask more questions about. But I think the other thing that Peter picks up on as well as what Brian said earlier, and that is we've learned this in situ. And whether that's learning while we're a young person at university for the first time or whether that's learning as a mid career person. And this is where I think we have to see and this is really what our multiversity is about it, at The Greater Western Sydney, is really about placing learning right in the heart of industry where you can't see the boundaries where learning begins and where industry starts. It gives greater opportunity for learning and work integrated learning, but also a greater opportunity for industry and universities to talk to each other around research. If we're actually there together, we're going to bump into each other. And I think we can start to have some of these discussions or debates around some of these issues more openly in that context, just as we are this evening.
Niall Kennedy 36:30
Thank you Ann. Brian, I wanted to give the last word to you. Just on one question. You mentioned, CPD and I wonder if you have views on how employers or individual workers could be engendering a CPD mindset outside of those industries and cultures, whether it's law or the medical profession that have had that baked in what more could be done there in your view?
Brian Howieson 36:58
I remember in 2005, the Royal College of Physicians of London, under the leadership of Professor Dame Carol Black, published a paper about doctors and society that really started the doctors thinking about CPD because it's the saying you can't just be good in your position, you're all round game has got to be good. So you've got to be a good leader, you've got to be a good manager, you've got to be a good clinician, and it reminded the medical profession. We've got to be good all rounders, and it can't just be specialists. And I've never really forgotten that because I think we see that in academics. I'm never quite convinced by the academic who produces all the papers and that's all they do because we have citizenship, we've got a role in the university and I think senior academics are good all rounders as well. For me, when I do leadership development. It's all about starting the conversation with themself. I've been always a bit nervous about some suit, charging ten thousand pounds a day giving me the latest Harvard Business Review model of leadership. I think what leadership is all about is of itself only on this reflection. And starting the conversation. I think management development, is a lot to do about learning how to learn, because that will apply in a variety of contexts. So I think what we do when we develop managers is develop their critical thinking skills, that ability to learn throughout their working life and beyond. And I think what we can do in CPD is actually what we are good in business schools in university is about developing new skills. So for me, I think how universities develop more with industry is to develop these skills in terms of leadership and management. And put that to the root of everything we do in CPD. Now there will always be a specific area we want to talk about, say diversity in the workplace right now. And people might want to come along and understand about CPD or to understand what we mean by gender equality. But actually, what we're trying to do in CPD in universities is help people to learn and that's what we can bring to the party in my view.
Niall Kennedy 38:57
Thank you, Brian. And thanks to all the panel: Brian Howieson, Ann Brewer, Peter Holland. Appreciate all your contributions. And thank you for listening. In the next podcast in this series on the future of work we're going to be looking at the opportunities and dangers offered by new technology across all economic sectors, for the future world of work.
FOW Podcast Ep3 – The role of technology in the future of work
Mon, 8/24 5:36AM • 49:05
people, technology, work, marketing, emma, greg, terms, role, organizations, gig, consumer, gig economy, richard, customer experience, business, trends, interesting, gavin, customer, future
Emma Parry, Richard Whittle, Greg Marshall, Gavin Brown
Andrew Peart 00:19
Welcome to the third episode of the Emerald future of work podcast series. The title is the role of technology in the future of work. And we're really lucky to be joined by four panelists. We have Gavin Brown, who's Associate Professor of Financial Technology at the University of Liverpool. And we have Dr. Richard Whittle, who is Senior Lecturer in Behavioral Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University. Gavin and Richard are co authors of the Emerald book 'Algorithms, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: Implications for the Future of the Workplace'. We are also joined by Professor Emma Parry, who is Professor of Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management Emma's, also the editor of 'The Changing Context of Managing People' book series. And last but not least, we're also joined by Professor Greg Marshall. Greg is Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Rollins College Florida, and also serves as the editor in chief of the European Journal of Marketing. Thank you all for joining us. What I wanted to do is really just start with a fairly general and sadly timely topic in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you think how has the pandemic caused us to change the way that we use technology at work? Emma, if we start with you?
Emma Parry 01:43
Well, I think I'd like to start by saying that I'm not sure what we're seeing now is a massive change. I think what it has done is accelerate trends that were happening already. So you know, so we've seen increased use over the last few years of things like technology around communication and collaboration, this move to using technology that allows us to work at home. And also the use of things like robotics, for deliveries, for cleaning, for things like that. So I don't think any of the kind of things we've been talking about over the last few weeks are new, but what it has done is it's forced us to adopt these in bulk much more quickly, and change the way that we work accordingly to do that. So for me, there are really around three areas. It's around communication and collaboration. It's around other technologies that allow us to work at home, and it's around what I think probably the most interesting stuff around robotics and how we're beginning to replace some of those manual tasks with robotics much more than we perhaps would have done at this point in time.
Andrew Peart 02:43
So when you kind of say as it's sped up the process, if we finally get this this pandemic behind us, would you see that the changes as being fairly permanent or would you see any of that are quite temporary?
Emma Parry 02:52
Well, that is the million dollar question isn't it. That everyone is asking at the moment. To be honest with you I think it's probably somewhere in the middle. I mean, there are a lot of commentators saying at the moment that no one will ever work in an office again, and we'll all stay at home, I very much doubt that that will happen. We're social creatures. We've seen in the past that moves from organizations to move to a complete remote working position have actually not been that successful. And many organizations have begun to introduce locations where people can interact, because actually people want to do that face to face sometimes. So I don't think we'll see a complete move to home working. But what I do think we will see is that we will see more people working at home, we'll see employers perhaps be more willing to allow people to work at home when they want to, because I think employers have been very cautious about how they manage performance and productivity and people when they're remote working. And they've been forced to face those issues over the last few weeks. So we'll see employers be more willing to that. And one of the things I think that we probably hope because of other issues around climate change and things is that we'll see less traveling for meetings of a few hours because people have learned that perhaps they can do that in a different way and don't need to get on an aeroplane. To do this kind of thing. So I think we'll see some changes, but not perhaps quite as drastic as some people are predicting.
Andrew Peart 04:13
Gavin, if I turn to you with the same question, what are your thoughts on this area?
Gavin Brown 04:16
Yeah, certainly a lot to think about and especially my area tends to be focused on the sort of roll that financial services also play in this aspect of current work and future work. I'd agree with everything that was just said by Emma there in terms of almost having these two stages. We're in a sort of limbo stage at the moment in a COVID-19 environment, pre vaccine. And the big question seems to be is what is that post vaccine economic environment going to look like? I think some of the changes that we've seen in terms of the gradual fragmentation of work, lowering of trade union ship membership, generally globally increase in non employee status happening in lots of jurisdictions as well. A lot of those trends we may see accelerating, similar to what Emma's point was made before and the other thing that I'm relatively interested in as well is that demarcation almost between professional positions, perhaps that are more able to move into a home working situation, or even freelance operation versus what we perhaps would once have called blue collar work and where there's that physical dimension to the role and client and customer facing often in some instances, and exactly whether this current environment and this technological shift, although it improves, let's say, productivity, and maybe even value for money for the end consumer generally, is it actually going to widen that gap between those two types of workers, if we can discuss them as two discrete blocks? There's certainly a lot to think about there. And I think the question is, what does that new normal look like post a vaccine, assuming one does come in 12 to 18 months, which a lot of people seem to be predicting, and what kind of nudges or new norms of behavior are actually going to stick in terms of the way we operate in terms of purchasing behavior, etc. So just because we can reopen certain types of activities, to what extent are people going to re engage with them in the same way that they did pre the vaccine really?
Andrew Peart 06:00
Yeah, that's actually given me a nice segue. You're mention of the word behavioral because I'm going to move to Richard, the behavioral economist. Richard, what's your thoughts around that?
Richard Whittle 06:10
Well, I've got to say, I mean, I think that everything I've heard so far I agree with. Ultimately, I think one of the trends that's been really accelerated and as yet unexplored is this integration of online technologies into physical space and the behavioral effects of that. So as an example what I'm thinking of is apps for say payment or coordination of activity in hospitality. Now, most say large chains or even smaller restaurants, pubs, bars, etc. have had an app that you can pay with for a large amount of time, they've had apps that you can order tables with even the one used to coordinate activity. However, the uptake of these generally been pretty poor. Suddenly, well as of tomorrow, in order to say book a table Or go and drink in my local pub, I need to use their app in order to book a table. And then I need to use it to make payments etc. Now, my issues with this are numerous or my concerns this are numerous. My first one is these large amounts of research and studies about how we view payments or kind of spending our money via an app compared to say, using cash. And there's lots of indications that we will value money less that we're spending electronically. Again, that has implications for our online retail our online spending behaviors more generally, but it can potentially lead to greater indebtedness, people not seeing the value of their money, people disassociating the value of their money from their spending activity at that time. But I think one of the really interesting things around this is that what is going to happen is suddenly your local business, your local hospitality chain has access to a huge amount of your data. Now there are issues around kind of personalized nudging around this. So what's the right time for Richard to get a reminder that he suddenly gets a free drink or discount code or something like that to help change his consumption patterns. But there are also issues around business models, first in terms of, say, workers and skills and digital skills in a variety of different industries. But one of the things that we're yet to explore is, could we be looking at fundamental changes to business models, say from traditional bricks and mortar physical consumption, to either data driven with say targeted ads, that kind of thing, real in depth knowledge of your customers, or even the next stage, which is data gathering. Do these businesses start to exist solely to gather data to sell on which is a very valuable commodity. And so I think that from a behavioral perspective this integration of online purchasing processes into our physical space is something that really needs exploring much further.
Andrew Peart 09:10
Interesting. Actually, Greg, if we bring you in at this point, because a lot of what Richard said there was around the the customer experience and how things are changing now and sort of how would you say that these recent trends in technology are impacting the customer experience, I guess, from your perspective from marketing and sales, particularly what do you think around that?
Greg Marshall 09:30
Well, I appreciate that question. And thanks for the opportunity to be here. You know, I'm based in the US but I also hold an appointment at Aston University in Birmingham and I was over there earlier this year, got back in early March, obviously have not been back to the UK since but have been staying in close contact with all of my colleagues and friends over in the UK. And it's quite interesting to look at some of the similarities and some of the differences in how the technology piece of the experiences we're having now are impacting differentially, and there are some differences on it. One of the things that I'm positive of is that we're not going to put the genie back in the bottle. From the consumer side, people are really, really enjoying the convenience that this has brought on in terms of interacting with various providers of products and services. And probably pre Coronavirus. We saw certain generational trends in terms of how likely an individual might be to prefer doing business with us through some kind of digital or social means. Now, very early evidence, but it's very strong evidence. This is certainly busting through generations. And the genie in the bottle analogy I think is very important because once people experience, and that is the word that is operative here, once they experience the opportunity to do business through means other than face to face, quite a few people find that they like it. And in fact, in so many ways, it's not just the convenience factor. But we're seeing some very early evidence in both marketing and sales, that people prefer it to the point where they may say, you know what I should have done this five years ago. This is a tremendous change in how we're going to be developing our strategies for go to market in the future. And I think that the marketing academic community generally, is fairly excited about this, because I think generally, they've been trying to nudge consumers to jump on the bandwagon a little bit quicker for the last decade. And now all of a sudden we see this sea change. The downside, of course, we all understand is the fact that there are winners and losers when there's significant changes in consumer trends. And we've already seen some very sad examples of key retailers that were not in a position to be able to succeed in an environment that may favor the virtual over the in person. But survival of the fittest in commerce certainly has been with us throughout the ages. And it is a fascinating time really to be studying consumer behavior.
Andrew Peart 12:21
Interesting. So do you think in terms of that, when you talk about those organizations, companies that haven't necessarily either adopted technology well enough or have adopted technology, but still haven't succeeded with it? What sort of examples you have of those kind of organizations?
Greg Marshall 12:36
Well, it's really the haves and have nots, honestly. It depends on how well the firms and the combination strategically between their IT folks and capabilities there and the marketing and sales units have been able to vision the future so far. And there are some real differences in how well organizations have been able to do this. So as consumers we're constrained in their ability to procure goods and services over the past several months. We're very finicky. We're all consumers. And we know that if we cannot achieve what we're looking for from A we're going to look at B,C and D. And so to your point, what's happening is that the firms that already had platforms that were very convenient, very easy, very logical to be able to use. I tried it, I won it over, all of a sudden, I'm thinking this is pretty good. What we're expecting over the next year to 18 months, is that it's going to be very difficult for the traditional brick and mortar retailers to compete in the way they were in the past because so many people have been won over by necessity. Necessity being the mother of invention, of course, to the convenience of doing business in ways other than literally going down to the high street and walking into the store.
Andrew Peart 13:57
Okay, so if I move to Gavin for this first point, a lot of it now is going to be around the surviving and the thriving of businesses post COVID. One of your areas of expertise, the book you've written around blockchain and cryptocurrency, how can they be harnessed to benefit businesses?
Gavin Brown 14:14
Yes, so certainly lots to say on that, I mean, just sort of dovetailing slightly as well into what Greg was just saying there. In terms of the traditional bricks and mortar type businesses, I think one of the challenges they've got, which is now becoming even more of a focus is the idea that given the paradigm shift we've gone through and I don't use that word lightly, is that you wouldn't design the way they've run some of their businesses today in the way that they've constructed them. So they've always had these legacy systems. I'm thinking, you know about financial services and organizations such as that, and they've always struggled to justify, you know, a certain movement away from the old business model to the new and they're almost running both in parallel, but they're now going to find themselves in a situation where they maybe have to take that jump and can no longer paddle across the river at a at a slow pace as the demographic change if you like? I think addressing your question directly, though, of, you know, what about blockchain and cryptocurrency, one of the things that I'm particularly interested in is around the new type of money which is coming about not just from a cryptocurrency perspective, but more from a state level perspective. So there's a lot of talk, particularly in the US, they're leading on this about so called digital dollars, basically recognizing that as things are changing significantly at the consumer level, a lot of this relies upon you having a digital identity, it relies upon you having a bank account and the sorts of things many of us take for granted. You know, you look in the UK today, and there's almost 2 million adults with no UK bank account. Now, as these business services and our consumption patterns change. Those people are literally, there's a complete barrier to them engaging in this in a meaningful way at all. So one of the things that are being explored is the idea of individuals having a bank account with their central bank. So in the US that would be with the Fed, if it's here in the UK, that would be with the Bank of England. And so when we see a potential second wave or future crises or similar sort of big events happening and say in the US example everyone gets a $1,200 dollar cheque. If you're earning less than $75,000 a year, that money is instantly into a digital bank account and not being burdened with a cheque. And maybe you've got a bank account, maybe you've not and then obviously being forced to go out physically and bank that in a brick and mortar bank, potentially, as well. So lots of innovation happening there. And particularly the US leading the way on that kind of digital dollars debate, which I find particularly interesting in terms of banking the unbanked really
Andrew Peart 16:26
Following on from that, Richard? I mean, when we talk about blockchain and cryptocurrency, do you see any dangers with it any drawbacks?
Richard Whittle 16:34
Oh, absolutely. And I think one of the things around any kind of new technology that we're talking about, as has been pointed out, of course, are there are going to be winners and losers. And I think one of the big losers are traditional organizations that are using or potentially going to be using really rapidly antiquating systems, both for recording payments, for transferring money, for making payments and actually as using money just as a means of payment, whereas one of the things that really come into its own in this crisis and is potentially as has been said, genie back in the bottle kind of stuff, is using money as a coordination tool, a coordination of customers via their payment mechanisms, that kind of thing as well, or even a coordination of social activity and a mechanism of digital social activity. And I think that the losers will be around individuals and organizations that aren't involved, aren't kept up, potentially traditional organizations that have large scale infrastructures, large scale costs associated with training. Also, organizations that have very, very broad customer demographics, which attempt to suit the entirety of their customer base, rather than focusing. And again, I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but rather than focusing on a particular customer base where the technology that is synonymous with that customer base enables them to have a different experience, a different consumption experience and different economic experience.
Andrew Peart 18:17
Okay, now, a lot of what Gavin and Richard talked about when you talk about legacy systems or antiquated systems. Emma, if I move to you in an HR context, how do you see the change of technology, the pros, the cons of using technology in an HR capacity?
Emma Parry 18:33
Well, again, I guess one of the things I'd like to say is that this trend of technology driving changes in the world of work is not really anything new. For a long time, we've seen this trend of technology, both augmenting and replacing people in order to make processes more efficient and effective. We've seen technology facilitating communication and collaboration, and we've seen perhaps where the emphasis has been more recently around the ability to store, analyze and apply massive quantities of data in order to improve the speed and effectiveness of decision making. So through time, as we've seen that evolution of technology, it's always changed the world of work. If you look at manufacturing 40 years ago, maybe more and the introduction of robotics and automation had a dramatic effect. And that's why we now talk about the fourth industrial revolution, I guess, because we've seen this several times before. So some of the effects to a broad extent are the same, I think, so we see these continued trends around automation and augmentation of different roles. But what we have seen as technology has advanced is that we're no longer really talking about the more junior roles, the very administrative roles or the very transactional roles. And nowadays when we talk more about artificial intelligence or more about kind of algorithmic applications of data, we talk much more about technology affecting roles in the middle of the organizations, so those roles that require higher cognitive function or complex decision making, so perhaps in businesses such as things like law, finance, and I'm sure Gavin could probably say a lot more about this than me, you know, and also in medicine, so we're beginning to see I think technology have a much wider effect. And, of course, the rhetoric. And again, if I can talk about these anonymous commentators that I mentioned, when I spoke before, you know, the rhetoric is technology is going to replace all our jobs, everybody's job will be automated. Actually, I don't believe that. I think yes, we will see some jobs being automated. Of course, that's going to happen, but we're also seeing new jobs being created. I think some data recently suggested that actually, there will be more job creation than jobs lost as a result of artificial intelligence, which is positive news. And we see massive changes in the kind of skills that people need, not just in terms of technology, but I guess a move away from the more transactional or perhaps decision making to things that require more creativity, more innovation, and more ability to deal with complexity, perhaps the things that at the moment, technology isn't very good to deal with. And then, of course, more emphasis on the interpersonal skills. And the things that again, technology isn't very good at, at the moment. So I think we still see these trends of augmentation and automation, but we also see this real shift of skills and what's important within organizations.
Andrew Peart 21:30
Okay. Greg, you had a point to make on this?
Greg Marshall 21:33
Yes, I really appreciate Emma's comments on this. And you know, I'm a lifelong marketer. And so looking at it through that lens. One of the things that's been driving us crazy for a period of time now in this field, is that I think everybody conceptually understands the importance of re conceiving the entire process of quote, marketing and sales around customer experience. And so recasting the process as a customer journey and a customer experience management exercise. Now, you know, I've got a chapter in one of my books on this, and it's easy to write and talk about. But getting it done is really tough. And so I think what Emma has shared with us here, many of these things are going to be the catalyst that forces the hand on this issue, because the complexities of customer needs and wants in 2020 and beyond. And this is not COVID driven, this is market driven and just simply sophistication of consumer knowledge driven, necessitate the fact that we become a lot better at thinking holistically and then acting on more of a one to one basis with our customer about what their needs and wants are. So back to another point she made about the sort of the winners and losers part. That's absolutely bound to be true as people are developing their marketing strategies for next year and the next year and the next year, I'm hopeful with fingers crossed that more organizations and the marketing leadership are stepping back and thinking about the capabilities that they would be able to achieve through better use of artificial intelligence, through the use of really understanding the blockchain cryptocurrency capabilities, how that impacts their ability to really map out a customer experience and allow that experience to be more seamless. These are not topics that I've seen talked about in boardrooms recently, to the level we're going to be seeing from this point forward.
Andrew Peart 23:33
Emma, can we bring you back in there?
Emma Parry 23:35
Yes, I'm always really interested when I listen to marketing people talk about the evolution of marketing and customer experience, because actually, we're seeing exactly the same in human resource management. Because of course, the emphasis in human resource management and the path that we've been going along is one of employee experience and employee being the customer and some of these trends that Greg was just talking about, about how we can use technologies and artificial intelligence to support HR professionals in that case on this journey is exactly the same in relation to managing people. But also, I think we're seeing technology, in a similar way to in marketing, enable the empowerment of employees to make their own decisions and to control their own working life and their own jobs a bit more. And I think we see similar things in marketing in terms of customers, being able to empower themselves through data and technology to make decisions. We're seeing similar things in HR. So it always really interests me how aligned those two areas are.
Andrew Peart 24:35
Okay. Gavin, you have a point on that?
Gavin Brown 24:37
Yeah, was just to expand a little bit on what Emma was saying there in terms of data led decision making, and obviously, particularly in my area, which is typically financial services in terms of the future work and the operators there as well. Seeing very much a drive now towards what's typically referred to as hyper personalization. So this idea that your financial identity, your financial transactions are almost not only bespoke and personal to you, but they're interwoven with your often social identity as well, particularly in terms of digital social identity. And that's all starting to change quite a lot. And especially when you consider the some of the regulations coming through at European level, it's what's known as PSD 2, which allows your bank or yourself to build platforms and to knit together your entire financial identity from all of the different products you have together. And, you know, I find that particularly interesting not only to empower from the customer experience, but also what does that mean for people who don't have access to that and I mentioned before the banked and unbanked. But I think the other thing to recognize as well is that although that general trend towards cooperation and use of data to improve customer experience, at the same time, that reliance on artificial intelligence and you know, algorithmic insight can also be a danger as well and I've just been reading some recent work, talking about almost a COVID blindness, this idea that the ability to predict bad debt, default risk on loans, etc, is almost not necessarily non existent, but it's becoming very difficult simply because in this new pandemic environment, because the whole system, the whole game has changed completely, it's even difficult to understand when someone is defaulting and when they're not maybe a consumer loan or an employee loan or whatever it might be. So the ability to rely on that technology in normal times is obviously a given. But in this kind of atypical state, we find ourselves in that black swan that is COVID-19 has rendered those systems to be not necessarily found wanting but certainly in need of professional and academic scrutiny.
Andrew Peart 26:28
Richard, is that something that you would agree with as well?
Richard Whittle 26:33
Absolutely. I think from a kind of behavioral perspective, we've got this huge, unforeseen event which created fear, which has created a kind of big shocking change to our lives. I mean, there's no getting away from the fact that this is a very fertile ground for say conspiracy theories or for nationalism or things along those lines. Which can develop because of this big societal uncertainty. And I think from the perspective of the consumer and consumption and economic activity, we are seeing the shift to online. And certainly we're also seeing with that the not consideration or actually in quite a lot of cases, no real choice, but to give over our data, but to sacrifice some of our privacy for both for convenience, but also for all the basics and essentials that we need. And one of the things that of course, happens and we all know from our daily lives, is that it is much easier to spend money online than it is in person. In fact, if we look at the design process built into the vast majority of websites we all use, which either nudge people into sale, so, other customers bought this, that kind of thing as well, or remove something that we call a sludge which is a barrier to a decision. So one of the things that we will often find is that websites we use store our card details. Why do they do that? It's for convenience, of course, but one of the key dropout points in any purchase is when you have a second to consider it. So a second to go and find your card to put in your car details. If we eliminate that point of consideration of a purchase, then we make the purchase itself more likely. Now, and we have this societal shift towards greater online economic activity and a shift that's gonna pull around very, very rapidly, often with no or little choice? And again, there are advantages around convenience, of course, but often with no or little choice, then people aren't necessarily equipped and some of the demographics we're talking about earlier, aren't necessarily equipped for these changes to occur.
Andrew Peart 28:56
Okay, interesting. Greg, if I turn to you because I think a lot of the discussion has a lot of resonance towards one particular sector that I know you've worked in a lot in terms of the gig economy. So I was wondering, what do you think the impact of technology? Is it going to further cement the gig economy? Is it going to expand it in terms of the way of working or what are your thoughts around that?
Greg Marshall 29:18
It's a very interesting area. The gig economy also referred to as the sharing economy, there's a variety of other similar names. The basic concept of it is a very strong concept certainly has caught on in the US, Europe, many places around the world, the idea that I can build together for myself a set of income generating possibilities, that may help me not necessarily connect over the long run to some kind of single job or career track, and is a trend that is significant, the further down the age groups that you go, but the question about the impact of the current crisis and the technology that we're beginning to embrace based upon necessity now is something that we're thinking a lot about in terms of the gig piece. I'm part of a project, that's called the ultimate gig. That is going to result in a book that's published by Emerald. And we've got some really amazing folks that are part of this looking at every possible aspect of gig. The couple of things that I'd share, probably top of mind right now. Number one, we project as do a number of other sources that we've looked into that are importantly spending time trying to understand these types of shifts in workplace preferences. Our projection is that more and more, not just millennials and Gen Z, but other generations post Coronavirus are going to be able to turn to gigs successfully, to be able to either a) augment their income because either they've been downsized in their jobs, or actually replace income, how disruptive this will be over the long run? I think is a fascinating question. But at least in the short run, companies like Uber, direct selling firms, operations that allow one to do short term rentals of homes, any possible type of quick, easy, separate income source that does not involve a traditional corporate environment where, you know, I'm going to get a pension, which is essentially non existent in the US, but in no way do I have any type of guarantees of retirement. All of that is really forced change already pre Coronavirus. And so I'm fascinated with this topic as are the colleagues that I'm working with this on because I wish we could really predict the trajectory of it. There is a lot of opportunity in the gig space, and the ability to think outside the box about what careers are going to look at in the future, I take more control of my destiny, if I'm able to be a part time freelancer for an ad agency, do some additional work with a selling firm, that's a direct seller, that's pure commission. And then at the same time, maybe I've got a Airbnb that I've used for an income source. The more we see this trend manifest, the bigger impact it's going to have on traditional company environments. And obviously, I'd love to get Emma's thoughts on this because as an HR professional and an HR expert, we've been getting some pretty interesting feedback from some of the folks in that field that we know about this and so far, most people are saying, you know, and we're seeing the same thing that employees also are interested in more independence, more freedom even within the actual corporate environment.
Andrew Peart 33:04
Over to you, Emma.
Emma Parry 33:06
Thank you, Greg. I was listening, fascinated there because it is an area that's completely fascinating actually. And one of the reasons I think it's so interesting is because we do have this real tension in an HR sense in relation to the gig economy. So on the one hand, we do know, there's this trend towards people, as you said, wanting more freedom in the way that they work, not wanting to be tied to an employer, perhaps. But on the other hand, if we look at quite a lot of the attitude surveys out there, things like job security, still rank as being really important in relation to people's work values. So for me, those two things are directly in opposition. So I think that's really interesting. In the UK in particular, we've had a lot of debates in recent years about you know, are people that work for Uber, if you take Uber because it's the one that a lot of people talk about, are they employees, are they not employees? I mean, in the UK, legally, people have said they are employees. So I think there's a really kind of interesting tension there as well. Interestingly, some colleagues of mine in Ireland have been doing some work. And some of their research is showing that gig workers actually do identify with Uber or Deliveroo or examples of gig platforms, to some extent in a similar way that they would to an employer. So they kind of identify with that organization. They choose which one they want to work with, in some cases, which is quite interesting, I think, to some degree. But the other thing I think, going back to COVID-19, just for a second is that I do think COVID-19 has highlighted some of the problems with this lack of security and this lack of infrastructure around gig workers and the lack of protection that they have, because we know that obviously, people that work that don't have the employer protection or employee protection, that work in the gig economy have actually come out as some of the have nots, as someone was saying earlier, in this latest crisis or this latest downturn, so I think there's a real tension and a lot of work to be done. So I'm really pleased to hear about your your book and your ultimate gig project, because I think there's really a lot of work to be done to understand how, from an HR perspective, if HR even exists in a gig situation, how we manage actually the needs and protection of these workers against the freedom that some of these people desire, and whether that should be done on a national policy basis, rather than an organizational basis. So I do think there's some really interesting things coming there. And if I can just say one more thing. I heard something very interesting yesterday, in relation to the impact of COVID, just to counterbalance something else that you said, Greg, was the actually there's an argument that technology and especially the acceleration out of COVID, may actually remove some of the gig opportunities because technology is now more commonly being used to do some of the things that gig workers would have previously done. And using robotics for deliveries is the obvious example of that.
Andrew Peart 35:56
Greg, back to you.
Greg Marshall 35:58
Well, that is a fascinating item there that last point that you've made Emma, and I had not thought about that, that is definitely something worth considering. Because COVID interjects something in there that maybe is not part of the current received view of the trajectory of the gig economy. The only other thing I was going to mention is, of course, Gen Z, which is the after millennials group is the apple of the marketers eye. Now they've finally gotten to the point where they're moving out of childhood and are in school and some of them are even moving into a position where they're getting into career tracks. And some of the preliminary research that I've seen on the Gen Z mindset, obviously, technology and digital made it, no question about that. They want it they love it. If there's not a technological aspect of what they're doing. I think they almost feel naked. But the key seems to be though more attitudinally they seem to be potentially a little more risk averse. Maybe even a bit more conservative. They went through some things when they were very young in what we call, loosely the Great Recession. Many people forget about the fact that they were little kids then many of them saw their houses being taken back by the banks. And all of this sort of thing is very formative of course, in generational marketing, you're what you were when, in many ways. And so one of the things that's fascinating to me about the gig piece is that will the next generation, not the millennials, the millennials love gigs, they're gig crazy. But will, Gen Z, to Emma's point, be much more likely to say no, not for me. I've seen what happens. I've seen the turbulence that occurs if I don't have steady income and some security. Which could really boomerang again, against the ability for the gig firms to be successful because they are completely driven by the independent contractors that are the ones that actually deliver the customer experience.
Andrew Peart 38:03
Okay. Emma, back to you on that.
Emma Parry 38:05
I was really just going to reinforce exactly what Greg is saying. We know from historically looking back at generational shifts in attitudes, that the economic cycle and economic downturns and upturns is something that really impacts attitudes towards work and as consumers in Greg's case, so that we know that when people are in a buoyant economy, people that grow up in a buoyant economy put much more emphasis on things like freedom, you know, freedom, choice, autonomy, but when people that grow up and experience as they're growing up a recession are much more likely actually to value job security and worry about some of those things, for obvious reasons, really. So I think it's quite interesting to see what this generation is going to be like moving forward. And actually, I would say to Greg, he's talking about generation Z, but I would say actually, is this generation Z or actually will we have a new generation now because it's the COVID actually the shock to the system, if you like or the societal shock that actually could lead to a fault line between generations that we now see a different group and a different set of attitudes in the post generation, the C generation that's coming out in the future.
Andrew Peart 39:15
Okay, so a lot of that mentions kind of the behavior of behavioral economics, Gavin, what are your thoughts around that?
Gavin Brown 39:21
I'm not a behavioral economist, but I can certainly talk a bit about the way that the evolution of money and the future of money is obviously impacting and enabling some of those changes, which Greg and Emma ably spoke about there. So speaking about things like the gig economy and the various sort of platform businesses, etc, that are connecting consumers and producers. One of the things that I find interesting is this idea of this Internet of Things economy that's gradually creeping in and seeing that a lot of that is being enabled by the ability for real time micro transactions to occur. So a lot of that's being driven by underlying blockchain efficiencies, a lot of it's forcing down individual transaction fees, and that's enabling people to actually broker, pay, consume and settle for services which are much shorter in duration and much shorter in terms of monetary value as well. So we're seeing the fragmentation of the worker role. Which then, you know, as was mentioned before about job security, the idea of a job for life went a long time ago. And I think very soon with the idea of someone only having one job at any given time will also be considered quite unusual. I think other things that are impacting the the worker identity as well, from my perspective, from a monetary role, if you like, is the idea of more and more corporates now beginning to issue and make desires that they wish to issue their own currency. So a corporate currency is certainly not something that's new, the East India Company did it few centuries back and do it in a very conniving, sort of machiavellian way and that they paid their employees with a currency of their making and then they could only then spend that in shops which they controlled and, you know, we've already seen Facebook talking about that with their Libra currency. They're offering their employees when it launches the ability to be remunerated with that currency as well up to 25%, I think it is of their employment can be remunerated in a coin issued by their corporation. Now, it doesn't seem to me to have many steps removed before we might have a situation where your role is when it's offered to you is contingent upon you having your entire salary, maybe mandated to be denominated in a currency issued by your corporation or your employer. So yes, it's an enabling technology. Yes, it can enable you know, the sort of freelancer, independent contractor or gig worker, but that same technology might be used in a different way, especially by much bigger and technology oriented companies that may be out there and wishing to leverage them.
Andrew Peart 41:36
What's really interesting across the four of you the very different areas of expertise that you bring. So when we look at the future of work and the role of technology in these things, it's looking very much towards those who are potentially earlier in their career. What would be really interesting from my point of view is what advice would you give to people either at university, who don't want to go to university but what's up advice would you say to prepare themselves for the future of work bearing in mind technology as much as it can? Gavin, if we start with you on that?
Gavin Brown 42:07
I read a good stat the other day, I think it was by the World Economic Forum as a specialist there saying that for our primary school children today, around about 60% of them will go on to work in roles that don't presently exist. So I always think there is a problem of that herd mentality of trying to second guess what will be the thematic changes in the world of work in terms of skills, resources, even if the theme is called correctly, if people respond to that on mass, they could end up with an oversupply of labor and you wish you didn't go into that particular role. So from my perspective, I'm very much as an academic I'm a purist, you know, I do believe in do what you enjoy, do what you are best at and you're likely to succeed given that enjoyment as well. And I know sounds a bit odd to say this, but you know, almost let the chips settle where they may and hopefully you'll be in the right position for you. But even if that poses employment challenges as long as you just maintain an overall mantra of obviously doing what you love, studying what you love, but also recognizing that the aim of the game now is one of flexibility. Okay, most people are going to need to change careers, change professions maybe multiple times in their careers. So being adaptable, being flexible for the future is probably my biggest piece of advice if I was giving it really, I think,
Andrew Peart 43:12
Richard, do we have you?
Richard Whittle 43:13
Yes, I'd very much echo what Gav just said. I think that the siloization of training really, really is problematic for somebody looking to the future where the range of activity is going to be vast and the kind of the need for adaptability. I think that one of the things that we see quite a lot in the press, particularly in the UK, is criticism of particular kind of creative type, training creative type activities, and non STEM subjects as well. But as we've already discussed earlier in this podcast, the creation of work and the displacement, of some roles and the creation of others, through AI, may will require far more creativity and non stem aptitudes of the workforce in the future.
Andrew Peart 44:09
Okay, Emma, from an HR perspective, what do you think around that?
Emma Parry 44:12
I'm gonna reinforce actually what Gavin and Richard have said, really. I mean, I think from an HR perspective, what we're really beginning to see is a move away from recruiting fixed skillsets, and much more towards recruiting people based on softer skills or things that are attitudes and so on. So really, I think what Richard was just saying about siloed skill sets, I think it's really important that people that are entering education or the job market now focus on the softer stuff, they think more about agility and flexibility and adaptability. They think about this thing that we might call a learning mindset. Because I think careers in the future are going to be much more about needing to learn rather than having a fixed skill set and developing that in a very linear way, it is going to be much more about having to adapt and develop and learn. So people that I know, that are recruiting right now are really looking for this thing they call a learning mindset and adaptability and some of that softer stuff. So I think about those things rather than worrying about having a really fixed vocational path, if you like. And the other thing that I would say, which I think is quite interesting, that came up in a conversation I had this morning, actually, is that we're really beginning to see this shift in the status of jobs. So don't think about you know, don't think about jobs that are really high status at the moment. Because actually, we've really seen in the last three months, jobs that focus more on the caring professions and so on, actually, they've become the jobs that are desirable and more high status that people are appreciating. So don't focus too much on thinking oh, well, that you know, that's a good job, or that's an important job because actually, I think that shifts and we're seeing a shift in that now. And think about what you enjoy, as Gavin said. Do what you enjoy and you're passionate about, but don't tie yourself down too much.
Andrew Peart 46:04
Greg, Does that ring true with you?
Greg Marshall 46:06
I agree with that. Absolutely. Andy, as you know, I've been in marketing and sales my entire career, over 10 years in industry and then transition into the academic side. I've been saying for a few years now that this is the best time ever for somebody to be considering a career, specifically in marketing, but that they have to understand that marketing isn't the stereotypical role. It's not what a lot of people would say in a 30 second soundbite about what they think marketing is, because marketing is not really the tool that can get people to do things and buy things that they otherwise wouldn't do or buy. Doesn't work that way so much as it used to, because there's so much information on the customer side. That's true, both in business to business and business to consumer marketing. The exciting thing about the field of marketing right now is that it's a word that almost has lost its original meaning to the point where even major corporations are beginning to not ban the M word. But we've seen a lot of firms change the title of the chief marketing officer, CMO, to all sorts of other things, such as chief customer officer, chief customer experience officer, etc. You can call it anything you want. But the issue is that organizations are investing a ton of money right now in making sure that they've got a direct line to understanding the customer needs and wants from more of a journey perspective. And we want to keep customers we don't want to turn customers. And most importantly, we want to make sure that customers see us as a robust provider that they want to really have a relationship with over the long run. So I think kind of back to that question earlier about customer experience, as long as we rewrite the book on marketing's role and think about it much more in terms of customer experience management, and we utilize the technologies we've been talking about today in ways that augment the capability to do that, the future and marketing for anyone who goes into that field is going to be very bright.
Andrew Peart 48:13
I think it's a really nice position to bring it to an end. Because I think each of you have spoken about, do what you love, and be flexible. So I think that's a really nice takeaway from the podcast. So I think we'll end it there and say, thank you very much to all four of you. It's been really interesting and really insightful. So thank you very much to all our listeners. Thank you for listening to all three of the episodes. And we'll speak to you all soon. Thank you.