COVID - 19 Pandemic: Accelerating the Future of Work

Who would have thought the future we anticipated a decade away will become a norm of today?

The Future of Work can mean many things. I have participated in and listened to future of work conversations over the last few years. Evangelists of the Future of Work and researchers have delivered keynotes and published reports respectively actively over the last 5 years. They sort to create awareness and sensitise us about the hurricane of hurricanes about to hit our careers, lifestyles, workplaces and our economy.

As defined in several reports, the future of work is:

“Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work”, accordingly to McKinsey

“Automation, advanced manufacturing, AI, and the shift to e-commerce are dramatically changing the number and nature of work”, according to Quartz

These definitions are coined based on a backward trend analysis of what the implications of these technologies according to the 4th Industrial Revolution will have on our workplace, lifestyles, and economies at scale. These leave conflicting information from various experts allowing for plenty of room for debate around what impact automation technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will have on jobs, skills, and wages.

According the Future of Jobs Report published by the World Economic Forum in January 2016, “Disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years. Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps. In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.

By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.1 In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content and the aggregate effect on employment is increasingly critical for businesses, governments and individuals in order to fully seize the opportunities presented by these trends—and to mitigate undesirable outcomes”

Beyond these conversations was the need for an implementation of framework that will keep governments running, businesses in continuity, people in their jobs, academic institutions becoming more agile in their response to industry human capital demands and most importantly, people realising that they are not prepared for the future.

Did COVID-19 Accelerate the Future of Work?

The sudden emergence of the Novel Coronavirus a.k.a COVID-19 identified the need that enterprises including governments must increase corporate resilience and help ensure community well-being by embracing virtual collaboration tools and practices.

Adopting social distancing, partial and total lockdown in almost all countries affected, has forced organizations and government agencies to perform all work virtually in response to the spread of the virus. What does this mean for businesses? How will organization continue to work and create value in this new environment? Will this be a short-term anomaly or a long-term trend?

Although some companies already had a Work from Home Policy in place, managing a large scale of remote employees and that too in such urgency can be overwhelming. This change may have come to stay and as Socrates rightly said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

The success of this new normal will be dependent on the governments, industry, academia and people.

(Please proceed with reading on these stakeholders as published thereof by same author. Thanks)

About the Author

Foster Awintiti Akugri is the Founder & President of the Hacklab Foundation. He is currently the Incubator Manager for the Stanbic Bank Incubator Ghana (SBIncubator Ghana), an initiative of Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited, a member of the Standard Bank Group.
 
He was the youngest participant at the World Economic Forum’s 48th Annual Meeting, Davos, Switzerland in 2018. He also serves as a member of the Malaika Coalition, a committee mandated by the Africa Regional Strategy Group of the World Economic Forum to work on the Africa 4.0 Initiative. He also serves on the Africa Growth Platform Working Group and was part of the team that lead the Digital Campaign Launch of the Platform during the World Economic Forum on Africa – Cape Town in September 2019.
 
He was listed among 30 under 30 Future of Ghana Pioneers Class of 2019. Also named Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader Class of 2019 by the Policy Center for the Global South, Morocco. In 2019, he was also named amongst Top 100 Most Influential Young Ghanaians and Top 4 Most Influential Young Ghanaians in Science & Technology by Avance Media. He also received the President’s Outstanding Youth Prize in Science and Technology in 2019 by the Millennium Excellence Foundation. In 2020, He was listed amongst Top 50 Young CEOs in Ghana by Avance Media.
 
He is a public speaker focusing on leadership, technology, entrepreneurship, smart industries, ecosystem development, digital transformation, education, youth engagement models and Concept of the African Dream. He is a 2x TEDx Speaker and has delivered over 40 keynotes. 

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