The future of work – what the academics say

Experts from UK universities who contributed to a report on post-Lockdown working life gave their views to authors.

The represented the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Reading, Sussex, Leeds as well as the ESCP Business School, Madrid. Here’s a snapshot:

Dr Naeema Pasha, Director of Henley Careers, Henley Business School:

“Many businesses have already got the message about agile teams – what we sometimes call ‘distributed leadership’, where people work very effectively in small, tightly-knit and connected teams on clearly defined projects.”

Dr. Petros Chamakiotis, Associate Fellow, ESCP Business School:

“Our research tells us that remote working seems to create a greater degree of complexity and responsibility per employee. It’s too much of a workload for one person to lead at a distance. It’s better to have more leaders with specialist skills.”

Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, Oxford Martin Citi Fellow, University of Oxford:

“Lower-paid workers are likely to have smaller homes which are less comfortable to work in and a harder environment in which to juggle work and family life. So there is a subtle potential for remote working to create multiple inequalities which managers should keep in mind.”

Professor Todd Landman, Professor of Political Science, University of Nottingham:

“There is one rarely considered difference that is exceptionally generational. Younger people don’t read the manual, in fact often there is no manual. They will download an app, see if it works and push buttons; or learn by video on YouTube.

“I, and most people of my generation, however, are book learners. A small investment in training, a buddy system, or just the occasional PDF manual to support older employees who had a pre-digital education, will give everyone a chance to perform effectively.”

Kishore Sengupta, Associate Professor, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge:

“Give remote employees a budget and the freedom to spend it. Make it obvious that budgets can be used for equipment, for example, but not other classes of product; and that purchases must be tracked.”

Mobile Working Risk Management Report, The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors:

“If an employer provides equipment for mobile working, and expects employees to use them during their work, they have legal duties to educate their employees on any associated health risks, to assess those risks, and to provide additional equipment to help control the risks.”

“Employees also have a legal duty to follow instructions and training, and to use equipment provided to them for the purpose of managing and reducing risks.

Professor Mark Stuart, Pro Dean for Research and Innovation, University of Leeds:

“There is an opportunity to effect change. It’s a big issue because we have a productivity problem across the UK economy, and it’s been going on for a long time. Achieving improved productivity involves organisations looking at work in radical ways: across the wider business strategy, processes, management practices etc. and flexing them accordingly, too.”