Does the future of work look good or bad?

By: June 2, 2020
the future of work covid ireland

As an employee, how do you feel about going back to work? As an employer, how do you feel about the future of the workplace? One result of the COVID pandemic is a concerted effort by employers and employees to re-examine the ‘future of work’ and the academic world has jumped in to help fill the information void.

New research from academics at Durham University Business School, Kings College Business School and the University Paris-Dauphine, offers a crystal ball and attempts to predict the future of work.

The researchers reviewed important work practices through four ‘separate dimensions’:
1: What we perceive as working practices: types of employment, entrepreneurship, freelance work etc.
2: What we perceive to be a workplace: the rise of home working, hot-desking and shared offices
3: Individuals and organisations: how and when people work, flexible working hours, co-employment and contract work
4: Power and control in work: the power relationship between those in management and employees whether they be freelance, permanent staff or part of the gig economy.

The research suggests we are set to see an increase in new modes of employment, including zero-hour contracts and other forms of insecure employment, growth in online labour platform workforces; the development of crowd-based and collaborative forms of entrepreneurship and the emergence of more flexible work places (coworking spaces) – all of which fall outside the old realm of a ‘formal organisation’, and blur the boundaries between work and private life.

The research also suggests that home and virtual offices are likely to be key elements of the new world of work, with a rise in those who work from home and non-traditional workplaces (i.e. restaurants, coffee shops), and those who work on the go, for example, on their commute.

Going forward there will more ‘flexibility of employment’, which includes both full-time and part-time workers in an organisation, co-employment (employment mediated by a recruiting agency) and contract work (short-term, project-based, hourly-paid). Flexible working times and hybrid forms of work, such as digital nomadism, are also set to increase.

The research paper has now been made freely available to read for the next month (June).