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Future of Work 2020

The future of work just became more human

iStock / Getty Images Plus / stefanamer

Elliot Wellsteed-Crook

Head of Partnerships and PR, London Tech Week

COVID-19 and working remotely has made us more human. We must build the future of work in accordance with human values, skills, experience and empathy.

Remember in 2017, when, during a live BBC interview, the video call was gate-crashed as children of Prof Robert Kelly came bounding into the room, followed by their mortified mother to scoop the troublesome toddlers out of the picture?

The family became an internet sensation. It exposed that, behind the façade of staged video calls and polished personalities, we are human.

COVID-19 has prompted the world’s biggest remote working experiment. This forced experiment could well be the most dramatic reinvention of work in our time.

Remote working has not only led to increased digital adoption – it has presented organisations with a moment to lean into their empathy.

Remote working has sensitised our perceptions of one another

Through video calls, we are inviting colleagues and clients into our homes, and providing a glimpse at the people we become beyond the office.

There is no longer a clear-cut, clinical separation between our professional and personal lives. With this, a new type of inclusiveness has emerged, and an opportunity for business to build on leadership, culture, technology, as well as a greater awareness of humanity.

We must build the future of work in accordance with human values, skills, experience and empathy.

For many, the office-home transition has brought the global workforce onto unified collaboration platforms and bizarrely, has brought the five generation workforce closer together.

Unlike a traditional office environment, where colleagues may be engaged in all manner of disjointed activities, communication has narrowed to fewer channels.

Human experience is the cornerstone to the future of work

The remote working experiment has also exposed the importance of ‘human experience’, both in the tech that organisations use internally, as well as what they send to market.

Human experience is essentially experiences that understand, and are created for, human values. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

Indeed, technology should not make us less human, but more, and yet we only now appear to be reaching a point where digital transformation is positioned to drive improved human centricity.

Building the future of work we should have

COVID-19 has put a new lens on humanity, of empathy, of togetherness. It has put much of the global workforce in the same boat, exposed to the same headwinds of company change, economic uncertainty, and restrictions on day-to-day life. In so doing, it has provided greater commonality.

It has amplified the fundamental, and uniquely human values of emotional intelligence, creativity, personality, and is a reminder for us to build the future of work in accordance with human values, skills, experience, enabled by the technologies that keep it possible.

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