Paradigm Shift Debate 3: Does work still... work?

November 27, 2020 Kristy Kahler

“Work is something you do, not somewhere you go.” Moderator, Ben Whattan, Founding Partner and COO, Keko Group, kicked off the final debate in our second Paradigm Shift season with a quote from the British former Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell. Those words, first said back in 2008, are perhaps more relevant today than they have ever been.

A wide-ranging discussion on the future of work featuring Tradeshift VP of People, Doug Folden, Wipro Chief Storyteller, Bianca Ghose, and Naomi Barton, Principal, Human Resources Practice at Savannah Group, began by discussing the transition to remote working and whether we’ve seen an end to the daily commute.

“Long before 2020 there were a lot of conversations already taking place, particularly in the knowledge worker community, about whether we need to congregate in one place to get work done,” said Bianca Ghose. “The pandemic really gave us the answer.”

Naomi Barton added that the transition to remote working had enabled her to cast the net wider in her search for talent. But the panellists also sounded a note of caution about making snap decisions right now regarding the future of the workplace.

“It’s a challenge many of us are still working through,” said Doug Folden. “We may get to the point four to six months from now, where the situation looks a lot different than it does right now.”

The discussion traversed from the challenges of maintaining a cohesive corporate culture in a predominantly remote workforce, through to the rise of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, and whether the pandemic has chipped away at workplace inequality, or simply reinforced barriers.

Attention then turned to the role of technology in the workplace the emerging skillsets employees will require in an increasingly digitized world. Panelists were adamant that the rise of automation would be a net creator of jobs in the long-term.

“People are working at full capacity right now,” said Naomi Barton. “Technology can help reduce many of the manual aspects of people’s jobs that they find time consuming, frustrating and demotivating. AI and automation will make us sharper and better, but it certainly won’t replace us.”

Check out the full discussion below and let us know if anything resonates with you by posting your comments and tweets using #paradigmshift.