Flexible working will become part of UK law. Here’s what to know

On Monday, Dec. 5, the U.K. government gifted an early Christmas present to millions of workers by proposing a new law that will grant the right to ask for part-time hours or home-working arrangements from the first day of a new job. 

Additionally, approximately 1.5 million low-paid workers — such as those operating in the gig economy, plus students and carers — would be free to supplement their incomes by taking on second jobs and be protected against restrictive “exclusivity clauses.”

Ministers said the plan was “to make flexible working the default.” But will U.K. employers be muttering “humbug” at the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill?

Reactions to the prospective bill have been mixed. Some groups — including trade unions — have applauded it as a critical evolution to ways of working. Others have complained it doesn’t go far enough or has too much wiggle room for employers.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in December 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How companies are paying employees more flexibly in the cost-of-living crisis

With the cost-of-living crisis deepening, workers are counting the days until payday more than ever. But is now the perfect time for organizations to rethink rigid pay cycles to help out employees, or is there not enough long-term value?

Global payroll technology company Ceridian recently reported that 53% of U.K. employees had found managing their finances trickier over the last 12 months. Alarmingly, 61% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 years old said an unexpected expense of £500 ($606) would leave them unable to fulfill other financial obligations, including rent, mortgage payments, and insurance.

Thankfully, advances in digital technology are generating innovative ways to pay employees faster. One of the various options available to employers seeking to pay their staff quicker is advance payments. Apps such as Earnin or Dave can help with this. Meanwhile, other progressive organizations have established pay-on-demand systems, allowing workers to access their wages when required. 

David Brown, founder and CEO of Hi, a social enterprise that enables businesses to boost their liquidity through its payroll solution, said that “employees should be able to get paid either daily, monthly, weekly or monthly based on their needs.” He cited a 2019 Mastercard and Ipsos Mori survey that found 61% of workers would like instant access to their earned wages – and that was before the pandemic.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in December 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Why employee turnover is more contagious than ever

In the hybrid-working era, job departures are more contagious than ever.

When a teammate goes — whether pushed or pulled — it leaves colleagues reflecting on their positions while having to pick up the extra slack. And it means they are 9.1% more likely to head for the exit, too, according to a new report published in mid-November by global employee analytics and workforce platform Visier.

As the Great Resignation shows no sign of breaking stride, this statistic could become a thornier issue for business leaders and HR professionals.

A cluster of departures is also incredibly destabilizing for any organization and could lead to a recruitment scramble. This desperate-but-necessary tactic might plug the gaps before more employees leave, but the rush to hire could be a misstep if they turn out to be a bad fit for the company.

Piers Hudson, senior director of Gartner’s HR functional strategy and management research team, agreed with this insight. “Smaller teams have micro-cultures, so when someone goes, it is worse as a trigger point,” he said.

As such, Hudson was not shocked by the 9.1% figure. “If anything, I was surprised it wasn’t higher,” he said. “Any departure would lead you to reconsider your role. It might raise things like your compensation and whether the person who has left is being paid more elsewhere.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

HR teams admit fault for why most new hires aren’t working out

Most human resource departments across the planet are feeling deep buyer’s remorse, according to new research.

Thomas International, a talent assessment platform provider, surveyed 900 HR professionals globally and found nearly two-thirds (60%) of new hires are not working out. And the majority of respondents blamed themselves for effectively taking shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends.

Nearly half (49%) of hiring managers said recruits were unsuccessful because of a “poor fit between the candidate and the role,” and 74% admitted to compromising candidate quality due to time pressures in response to the Great Resignation and a tight labor market.

It seems that this post-job-move remorse hasn’t just been a burden on HR teams, but the new hires themselves. “We see a higher level of regretted choices because things have not worked out the way the candidate had hoped,” said Piers Hudson, senior director of Gartner’s HR functional strategy and management research team, referencing trends his organization’s proprietary data has highlighted.

However, he added that overall, there has been an “elevation in expectations,” particularly among younger generations, that employers are finding it difficult to live up to.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

The best business uses for automation

Every business leader knows that robotics and AI can reduce operating costs and free up employees for more enjoyable tasks. But how is automation fitting into common business functions?

Finance

Finance professionals spend a chunk of their time collecting, tracking and chasing receipts and invoices – up to 2.7 working days every month, according to research by spend management specialists Moss. Yet up to 16 working hours for every 100 transaction-related tasks could be saved by adopting an automated spend management platform. That’s according to Saray Hamarneh, strategy and business development manager at Moss.

Waste-management company Biffa has triumphed after binning its old cash-collection system. Emily Munnoch, the firm’s finance director for shared services, explains that an AI-powered order-to-cash platform has helped to secure and accelerate cash flow – by expediting invoice payments and managing disputes and credit risk. “Our dunning success rate has improved by 22.5%, which has reduced overdue debt and improved cash flow for the business,” she says.

And there are further benefits. “All of our credit controllers love using the platform, and it has enhanced customer communications because we can now communicate electronically with more than 99% of our customer base,” she adds.

Elsewhere, Ilija Ugrinic, commercial solutions director at Proactis, an international payments software business, offers two examples. His company saved Screwfix £100,000 year-on-year after introducing “one standardised, integrated automation solution that streamlined receipt, approval and exception handling”. Additionally, Wigan Council, which deals with around 90,000 invoices a year, improved invoice processing by 66% using Proactis’ solution and generated an annual saving of £120,000.

HR and recruitment

Shayne Simpson is managing director of TechNET IT Recruitment. He admits that he took a risk in choosing a solution that automates recruitment processes and communication with candidates using staffing software company Bullhorn’s cloud-based platform. But he insists that the gamble has paid off. 

“In the last six months we have saved 28,609 hours, sent 144,269 automatic emails with a 53% read rate, and sent 45,852 texts,” says Simpson. “All of this equates to the admin of 30 full-time consultants being completed by a robot every month.”

Jason Heilman is Bullhorn’s senior vice-president for automation, AI and talent experience. He points out that the average recruitment firm currently automates more than 20,000 emails, texts, updates, notes and tasks each year. “Cumulatively, this represented an estimated saving of 2.5 million employee hours in 2021 alone, equal to freeing up three hours every day per recruiter,” he says.

Chris Underwood, managing director for executive search consultancy Adastrum, though, is ambivalent. “It’s important to question the reliability of AI in implementing the diversity and inclusion agenda during recruitment,” he warns. “Take Amazon, for example, which no longer uses AI in HR as it discovered its AI-driven candidate screening discriminated against women.

“Removing the human element from HR will only frustrate and limit the candidate’s company experience if interviews are robotic.”

Legal and compliance

The legal sector has been slow to take up AI and robotics. “The scope for efficiencies in legal processes is staggering,” says Jonathan White, legal and compliance director at National Accident Helpline. “While law firms have been behind the curve, we’re beginning to see significant advantages, particularly in automating processes around creating documents with common features such as non-disclosure agreements.” JPMorgan’s contract analysis solution, Coin, can reportedly complete 36,000 hours’ worth of legal work in mere seconds, White explains.

Tom Dunlop, co-founder and CEO of legal tech developer and provider Summize, claims to have developed the world’s first integrated contract lifecycle management solution. “The average reported time to review one contract manually is approximately 92 minutes,” he says. “With large organisations managing an average of 350 contracts each week, speeding up this process makes a huge difference.” Summize’s product, which uses AI and natural language processing, means a contract can be created in under two minutes and then the first-pass review in under five minutes. “Clients report time savings of 85% or more compared to manual processes,” he adds.

With nearly a quarter of a million legal contracts stored within one central system, Elliott Young, chief technology officer at Dell Technologies UK, required such a solution. “The legal team was reading approximately 800 contracts per quarter, so processing the repository would have taken 212 quarters or 53 years,” he says. Instead, a proof-of-concept system that combined AI and humans achieved the same results in months.

Marketing

“Automation presents a huge opportunity to build on the foundations of our relationships with customers,” says Carlene Jackson, CEO of Brighton-based digital transformation consultancy Cloud9 Insight. “If a customer follows you on social media, that could trigger a private message which encourages them to download a guide from your website.” That message could then generate timely emails with useful content based on pageviews or links which they have accessed on subsequent visits. 

Natalie Cramp is CEO of data science consultancy Profusion and agrees. “Automating even basic processes like email builds and sends can save marketing teams a lot of time and money. It can also, crucially, increase marketing effectiveness while removing the potential for human error.”

Of course, mistakes can still creep in. In January 2020, for instance, Aviva accidentally called all the customers in its email base “Michael”. Cramp continues: “If businesses can dedicate time to more complex automation, such as data management and algorithms, these can fuel highly personalised customer journeys and lead to a huge impact on customer experience with vastly increased sales.”

Nick Mason, co-founder and CEO of Turtl, a content automation platform, says that personalised content can generate up to 10 times more subscribers. “You can cut the time to produce sales proposals by 90% if you use pre-existing automation engines to create personalised digital documents,” he says.

Customer service

For Virgin Media O2, which has around 47 million customers in the UK, automating its contact centre was a strategic imperative – not least because uncoordinated messaging to the business’s 7,000 agents was leading to inconsistencies and knowledge gaps. 

Last October, it overhauled its processes using Intradiem’s intelligent automation solution. The platform was used to deliver training directly to agents’ desktops; to send notifications to help keep call-handling time within preset thresholds and to facilitate their ability to take breaks on time and to use the off-phone time to stay up to date on internal communications, explains Faye Herring, Virgin Media’s workforce planning manager.

“Within four months of launch, more than 3,500 hours of offline time were delivered to agents’ desktops via Intradiem to make productive use of what had previously been wasted available time,” she says. “And it reduced the average call-handling time by up to 60 seconds.”

Greg Adams, regional vice-president for the UK and Ireland at Dynatrace, offers an equally impressive example. His company’s work enabled UK health and life insurance company Vitality to adopt a proactive servicing model. “Its customer service teams are automatically notified when Vitality’s members encounter errors in their digital experience, so they can contact members and resolve the issue instead of waiting for them to get in touch to ask for help,” Adams says. 

He adds that the proactive customer support capability has helped Vitality to reduce policy lapse rates among members who come up against problems in their digital journey by 65%.

This article was first published by Raconteur in November 2022

Cost-of-living worries prompt workers to seek higher-paid jobs

Sorry kids, Santa’s sack might not be so full this year. According to new research, an alarming 88% of U.K. workers are unsure whether their current role can sustain them financially during this economically uncertain period.

Further, productivity platform ClickUp’s study, published in late November, calculated that 26% of Britain-based employees are planning to switch jobs because of the cost-of-living crisis — inflation hit 11.1% in October, a 41-year high — and the desperate need to earn more money.

“With the highest inflation rate among the G7 countries [consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K and the U.S.], there’s no doubt almost every working family in the U.K. is feeling the pinch,” said Alan Bradstock, a senior insolvency practitioner at Accura Accountants in London. “Many have no choice but to seek higher paid work.”

Citizens Advice, a U.K. charity, said the number of employed people seeking crisis support between July and September jumped 150% compared to the same three-month span two years ago. “Every day, our advisers hear stories of people skipping meals, going without essentials, and then coming to us when they simply can’t cut back anymore,” said Morgan Wild, the charity’s head of policy. “This cannot continue.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Remote-working Gen Zers using would-be commutes to develop side hustles

For some remote workers, how they spend the time they would’ve been commuting has been critical. For Gen Z, specifically, it’s meant developing side hustles.

The most recent calculations show the average one-way trip to the office is 27 minutes and 36 seconds for U.S. workers. In the U.K., it’s almost the same: 28 minutes. Remote workers effectively then gain an hour daily. 

In the U.S. alone, workers now spend 60 million fewer hours traveling to work daily, compared to before the pandemic, according to the New York Federal Reserve’s Liberty Street Economics blog. Its findings show that, depending on age, people do different things with that time.

Older cohorts tend to devote more time to childcare, DIY, and cooking. But younger workers, while reallocating commuting time to social events, exercise, and eating out, are also making use of the extra minutes to develop side hustles and learn new skills.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

In-office or remote work: which do Gen Zers really prefer for career progression?

The hybrid working headache is not shifting but intensifying. It is a straightforward calculation to work out that by the end of the decade, members of Generation Z — born between 1997 and 2012 — will make up around 30% of the workforce. Yet where they want to work, and thrive, is much harder to determine right now. 

A flurry of recent reports analyzing whether Gen Zers would prefer to be in the office or work remotely are wildly contradictory. For instance, a global report published in mid-October by workforce solutions company Aquent found that 77% of 18- to 24-year-olds are worried that remote work restricts their career progression. 

However, another report published in November by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and King’s Business School found that Gen Zers in London believed remote working had benefits that could help their career progression. Additionally, many people in this generation have just entered the workforce and have never worked in an office.

Considering the mixed picture, what could — and should — employers be doing today to better prepare for tomorrow, when this cohort will lead?

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How organizations can spot future workforce skills gaps

With technology-powered change being the only constant in the digital age, what skills will pay the bills in the next five years? Moreover, how could — and should — organizations identify the potential gaps in the near future and train employees or hire accordingly to plug them?

According to global data analyzed by LinkedIn, the skillsets required for jobs have changed by 25% from 2015 to 2021. “This figure is expected to double by 2027,” said Becky Schnauffer, LinkedIn’s head of global clients in EMEA and LATAM. 

These findings were mirrored by a Boston Consulting Group report published in May, which showed that 37% of the top 20 skills requested for the average U.S. job had changed from 2016. But which industries have been impacted the most, and which others are at risk?

The LinkedIn Future of Skills report calculated that since 2015, the top three sectors to have experienced the most significant change in required skillsets are hardware and networking (31%), energy and mining (27%), and construction (26%). 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to fix the NHS: a Canterbury tale

David Meates overhauled New Zealand’s Canterbury District Health Board so that it became a world-leading exemplar of integration. He believes that a similar approach could prove transformational for the embattled NHS

The maxim “prevention is better than cure” is widely attributed to the philosopher Erasmus of Rotterdam, who died in 1536. Has this adage ever been more apposite for the NHS?

Analysis by the Health Foundation on 13 July found that up to 39,000 extra beds are likely to be required by 2030 in England alone if the service is to restore the level of care it was offering before the pandemic. Scaling up could cost the taxpayer as much as £29bn.

The day before, Public Health Scotland statistics revealed that only 65% of A&E patients had been seen in the week ending 3 July within the Scottish government’s four-hour target time, marking the worst performance since weekly records began in 2015. In the previous week, data from freedom-of-information requests to every NHS trust in England showed that almost 117,000 patients had died last year awaiting care – close to double the pre-pandemic figure. Meanwhile, a record 6.5 million people are awaiting non-emergency treatment.

So, when 42 integrated care boards (ICBs) were created across England on 1 July as part of an NHS shake-up, the fanfare was muted. New pathways, such as blood-pressure checks in betting shops, failed to quicken the pulse of some observers, while the drafting of children’s mental health specialists into GP surgeries underwhelmed others.

Yet these actions were designed to transform how healthcare is provided and prevent avoidable premature deaths in the coming years. But such seemingly mild doses of alternative approaches to medicine could, with injections of trust and collaboration, actually revive the fortunes of the NHS tomorrow. So says David Meates, a consultant on the ICB roll-out.

By developing these ICBs and empowering local teams, communities and people, the potential of “precision health” – an approach to care that’s integrated, efficient, highly personalised and designed to cut hospital stays and costs – can be realised, he argues. 

Meates is well placed to comment, having led the transformation of the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) in New Zealand. His organisation came to be seen as a world leading exemplar of integrated health pathways. (But even paragons aren’t immune from being restructured out of existence: at the end of June, the CDHB and 19 other district health boards were merged into a new body called Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, which oversees the day-to-day running of the system for the whole country. ‘Te whatu ora’ translates loosely from Māori as ‘the weaving of wellness’.)

As CEO of the CDHB in 2009-20, Meates was responsible for the health of about 600,000 people. He inherited an organisation in desperate need of reform. Indeed, when he arrived, there was “internecine warfare” between various stakeholders – hospitals, GPs, care homes and pharmacies – according to Meates. The divisions generated by these self-interested factions had led to a “complete breakdown of trust and confidence of the community. Frankly, the very broken system couldn’t keep doing what it was doing,” he recalls, pointing out that the CDHB had been unable to hit its targets and was “perpetually in deficit”. Sound familiar? 

Seeing so many functions pulling in different directions, he understood that there was “nothing binding them together and no shared sense of purpose – a common ‘why?’” Meates set about reasserting the core aim of the CDHB: to improve the integration between community and hospital care by rebuilding trust.

He resolved to use relatable language and build a social movement that engaged various cultures and created a simple, user-centred vision for a better health service. His work aimed to make healthcare preventive rather than reactive, giving patients and communities the tools and knowledge to take better care of themselves. First, he invited the factions to an open forum to try to understand their frustrations and rebuild trust.

“We involved people from outside the system to stimulate those conversations, because stakeholders in this sector often look at problems through an internal lens,” Meates says. “Using other organisations as a part of the engagement also makes for a safer forum for conversations that otherwise wouldn’t be held.” Through these discussions with medical and community leaders, and also interactive workshops that hinted at what could be possible, a clear vision of what stakeholders wanted Canterbury’s health system to look like appeared: one that is connected, centred on people and aims not to waste their time. Meates’ objective was to empower people motivated by having “co-designed the vision” to take the actions required to realise that vision. 

To illustrate and so simplify the vision, the team drew a one-page diagram showing Agnes, a fictitious 85-year-old in the middle, and the relevant health services around her. Using a persona helped to change the attitudes of those within the healthcare system and, crucially, the wider community. “We had a large, ageing population, so this helped us understand what that typical person might look and feel like. This was different from the cold, hard way of thinking of things as outcomes or outputs,” Meates explains. Having the core focus of serving Agnes better made decision-making easier, drastically improving cost-efficiency.

Using the persona of Agnes to articulate the new vision led to other “game-changing” benefits, he adds. “Coming from a person-centred view of the world enabled us to engage with our indigenous populations in quite different ways.” Almost 10% of the population that was covered by the CDHB is of Māori ethnicity, while just under 3% is of Pacific origin. “We stopped talking about them as hard-to-reach communities and, after putting the lens back on to us, realised that we were a hard-toreach health system,” Meates says. “We flipped things around and made the community part of the solutions and ownership.”

There was more engagement with churches – which are central to the Pasifika community – and hairdressers, who were encouraged to refer older customers if they were having trouble getting out of their chairs. “We wanted to stop elderly people falling and ending up in a hospital, so we empowered people to refer anyone who seemed to be struggling to a strength-based programme. This resulted in a massive decrease in the number of falls,” Meates says. “We’ve saved thousands of people from dying that way.”

Meates stepped down as CEO of CDHB in late 2020 but was soon persuaded to travel halfway around the world to offer guidance on the ICB roll-out. From September 2021 to July 2022, via Lightfoot Solutions, he worked with various health systems in Wales and England. Having recently returned to his homeland to contest the mayoralty of Christchurch, Meates offers some reflections on his time in the UK. “It is said that ‘change happens at the speed of trust’, yet so much of our health and social care system is built on distrust,” he argues. “We continue to see the impacts of fragmented care based on the organisation’s needs instead of the person being at the centre of service design and delivery. Funding and contracts dominate the discussions and are often the key performance metrics, with limited visibility regarding patient outcomes.”

Meates believes that NHS leaders and strategic decision-makers in other sectors should be looking to the future rather than getting stuck in “crisis management” mode. The temptation is to revert to what the system has always done to deal with crises. This means that the necessary system changes will keep getting “put into the ‘too hard’ basket”.

Without the will to focus on the future, the health and social care system will continue to be “overloaded and under siege”. He continues: “It’s a fundamental shift of mindset. Most of what we use today is of limited value to tomorrow, yet we’re still trying to use everything from yesterday to solve tomorrow’s problems.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s Future of Healthcare report in July 2022

People are struggling to make new pals at work

Greek philosopher Aristotle, who died in 322 BC, considered “friendliness” one of his 12 virtues. Over two millennia later, Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. president throughout World War I, said: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” However, almost a century after his death, the business world is crumbling — because having a best mate at work is increasingly ancient history.

New data from audio-only social media platform Clubhouse, based on a sample size of 1,000 U.S. workers, suggested 74% of people lost touch with a work friend during the coronavirus crisis.

The combination of the Great Resignation, enforced hybrid working policies, and organizations chopping and changing staff — in addition to any health complications suffered — means that fewer people now have besties at work.

Meanwhile, playing “you’re-on-mute” tennis on videoconferencing is not conducive to achieving game, set, match for a smashing new work friendship. The report reveals a worrying statistic: 61% of respondents said work friends are more critical post-pandemic. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

The appliance of prescience

Advances in artificial intelligence are giving organisations in both the public and private sectors increasingly powerful forecasting capabilities. How much further down this predictive path is it possible for them to go?

Minority Report, Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, explores the concept of extremely proactive policing. The film, starring Tom Cruise, is set in 2054 Washington DC. The city’s pre-crime department, using visions provided by three clairvoyants, can accurately forecast where a premeditated homicide is about to happen. The team is then able to dash to the scene and collar the would-be murderer just before they strike.

While police forces are never likely to have crack teams of incredibly useful psychics at their disposal, artificial intelligence has advanced to such an extent in recent years that its powerful algorithms can crunch huge volumes of data to make startlingly accurate forecasts.

Could a Minority Report style of super-predictive governance ever become feasible in the public sector – or, indeed, in business? If so, what would the ethical implications of adopting such an approach be?

There is a growing list of narrow-scope cases in which predictive analytics has been used to fight crime and save lives. In Durham, North Carolina, for instance, the police reported a 39% fall in the number of violent offences recorded between 2007 and 2014 after using AI-based systems over that period to observe trends in criminal activities and identify hotspots where they could make more timely interventions.

AI has also been used to tackle human trafficking in the US, where it has helped the authorities to locate and rescue thousands of victims. Knowing that about 75% of child trafficking cases involve grooming on the internet, the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency monitors suspicious online ads, detects coded messages and finds connections between these and criminal gangs.

In Indonesia, the government has partnered with Qlue, a specialist in smart city technology, to predict when and where natural disasters are most likely to strike. Its systems analyse flood data collected from sensors and information reported by citizens. This enables it to identify the localities most at risk, which informs disaster management planning and enables swifter, more targeted responses.

While all these cases are positive examples of the power of predictive AI, it would be nigh-on impossible to roll out a Minority Report style of governance on a larger scale. That’s the view of Dr Laura Gilbert, chief analyst and director of data science at the Cabinet Office. “To recreate a precognitive world, you would need an incredibly advanced, highly deterministic model of human behaviour – using an AI digital-twin model, perhaps – with low levels of uncertainty being tolerable,” she says. “It’s not certain that this is even possible.”

An abundance of information is required to understand a person’s likely behaviour, such as their genetic make-up, upbringing, current circumstances and more. Moreover, achieving errorless results would require everyone to be continuously scrutinised.

“Doing this on a grand scale – by closely monitoring every facet of every life; accurately analysing and storing (or judiciously discarding) all the data collected; and creating all the technology enhancements to enable such a programme – would be a huge investment and also cost us opportunities to develop other types of positive intervention,” Gilbert says. “This is unlikely to be even close to acceptable, socially or politically, in the foreseeable future.”

Tom Cheesewright, a futurist, author and consultant, agrees. He doubts that such an undertaking would ever be considered worthwhile, even in 2054. “The cost to the wider public in terms of the loss of privacy would be too great,” Cheesewright argues, adding that, in any case, “techniques for bypassing surveillance are widely understood”.

Nonetheless, Vishal Marria, founder and CEO of enterprise intelligence company Quantexa, notes that the private sector, particularly the financial services industry, is making great use of AI in nipping crimes such as money-laundering in the bud. “HSBC has pioneered a new approach to countering financial crime on a global scale across billions of records,” he says. “Only by implementing contextual analytics technology could it identify the risk more accurately, remove it and enable a future-proof mitigation strategy.”

Alex Case, senior director in EMEA for US software company Pegasystems, believes that governments and their agencies can take much from the private sector’s advances. Case, who worked as a deputy director in the civil service from 2018 to 2021, says: “The levels of service being routinely provided by the best parts of the private sector can be replicated in government. In contrast with the dystopian future depicted in Minority Report, the increasing use of AI by governments may lead to a golden age of citizen-centric public service.”

Which other operations or business functions have the most to gain from advances in predictive analytics? Cheeswright believes that “the upstream supply chain is an obvious one in the current climate. If you can foresee shortages owing to pandemics, wars, economic failures and natural disasters, you could gain an enormous competitive advantage.”

The biggest barriers to wielding such forecasting power are a lack of high-quality data and a shortage of experts who can analyse the material and draw actionable insights from it. “Bad data can turn even a smooth deployment on the technology side into a disaster for a business,” notes Danny Sandwell, data strategist at Quest Software. “Data governance – underpinned by visibility into, and insights about, your data landscape – is the best way to ensure that you’re using the right material to inform your decisions. Effective governance helps organisations to understand what data they have, its fitness for use and how it should be applied.”

Sandwell adds that a well-managed data governance programme will create a “single version of the truth”, eliminating duplicate data and the confusion it can cause. Moreover, the most advanced organisations can build self-service platforms by establishing standards and investing in data literacy. “Data governance enables a system of best practice, expertise and collaboration – the hallmarks of an analytics-driven business,” he says.

Gilbert offers business leaders one final piece of advice in this area: recruit carefully. She argues that “a great data analyst is worth, at a conservative estimate, 20 average ones. They can often do things that any number of average analysts working together still can’t achieve. What’s more, a bad analyst will cost you both money and time.”

And, as Minority Report’s would-be criminals in discover to their cost, time is the one resource that’s impossible to claw back.

This article was first published in Raconteur’s Future of Data report in October 2022

Organizations are reskilling retired elite professional athletes

At the pinnacle of his rugby sevens career, Philip Burgess won an Olympic silver medal representing Great Britain at Rio 2016. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — I felt so lucky to be there, and it was an unreal sense of achievement,” he said.

However, when he hung up his boots seven years later, at age 32, Burgess struggled. Despite captaining England of the sport and being a prominent leader, he found it initially hard to catch a break in his second career. “The transition from sports to business was hard,” he admitted. “I had spent over a decade building skills and working tirelessly, and had gone from being one of the best players in the rugby sevens [a form of rugby that uses seven players] world to feeling like an overqualified graduate.”

A LinkedIn post, in which Burgess wrote that he was actively looking for opportunities, was spotted by a fellow ex-sportsman working at Salesforce. He contacted Burgess, who in time became an account executive for the software firm. “He and a group of fellow ex-athletes at Salesforce supported me to transition — we have become a community, and it has helped to build the foundation for Athleteforce,” said Burgess.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How this company is encouraging employees to create in-office FOMO to entice their colleagues back

The carrot and the stick have, respectively, been dangled and wielded to tempt or force workers back to the office, with varying success. So far, neither approach has worked that well. There is limited appetite for incentives like free yoga and chai lattes, or a team lunch on Fridays. And the stick approach is spurring people to leave.

Global mobility and food-delivery company Bolt has embraced a third approach: generating fear of missing out (FOMO).

Speaking during a recent round table event organized by messaging platform Slack in London, Mathis Bogens, Bolt’s head of internal communications, said he encourages staff in the office to post about having a great time on the organization’s Slack channels, to stoke jealousy in remote workers.

“We use FOMO. This is the easiest way,” he said. “You just share photographs of how much fun it is to be at the office,” he said. “For example, we will go out as a team and order pints and good food, enjoy it together, and share lots of photos on Slack. So those people who decided not to come to the office don’t feel good.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

House swap: Would you switch homes with a colleague to work in another country?

Would you open your doors to colleagues from other countries and swap homes with them for a few weeks or even months? To keep pace with working trends, some organizations are turning to Airbnb-style initiatives.

One such organization is London-headquartered financial technology company Wise — formerly TransferWise — which has 17 offices around the globe including in New York and Tokyo. In early 2021, spurred by the pandemic, Wise established a “work-from-anywhere” perkwhich allows employees to perform their jobs from anywhere in the world for up to 90 days a year.

So far more than 25% of the company’s 4,000 employees have used the perk and worked from places including Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Costa Rica. 

And, quite incredibly, the perk has taken on a life of its own thanks to the quick thinking of Wise employee Kadri-Ann Freiberg. The margin assurance specialist, based in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, sought to take advantage of the work-from-anywhere policy — but she didn’t want to pay rent on an additional property. So she took to the company’s Budapest Slack channel to ask if anyone else at Wise would be interested in swapping homes for a month, especially in Budapest, where she longed to visit. Freiberg’s post altered how her colleagues thought about the possibilities. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Under pressure: Why bosses are struggling more than ever

With the dark clouds of a global recession gathering and workers enveloped by a sense of dread and job insecurity, it’s easy to overlook the plight of those in the eye of the storm: the big bosses. And new data indicates that leaders around the globe are struggling like never before.

The latest Future Forum Pulse report — a survey of almost 11,000 workers across the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. published in October — found that executives’ sentiment and experience scores had sunk to record lows. Compared to a year ago, execs reported a 15% decline in the working environment, a 20% drop in work-life balance, and a 40% increase in work-related stress and anxiety.

The results shared by Future Forum, Slack’s research consortium on the future of work, were mirrored in workplace culture and recognition firm O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report, which involved 36,000 workers from 20 countries. “We found that leaders are 43% more likely to say that work is interfering with their ability to be happy in other areas of their lives,” said Robert Ordever, the organization’s European managing director. 

The saying that “a happy worker is a productive worker” is particularly relevant to those in a position of power. “When leaders don’t thrive, their employees, teams, and organizations won’t either,” added Ordever.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Strike out: Industrial action could accelerate the shift to automated jobs

Set against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, the so-called “summer of discontent” in the U.K. — which has seen strikes from railway workers, criminal barristers, Post Office employees, teachers, airport staff, healthcare staff, and others—looks likely to extend through the winter. And the feeling of dissatisfaction is not limited to the U.K., with workers downing tools across the globe.

Although the U.K. lawyers finally stepped away from the picket line in early October, accepting the government’s 15% pay raise, Royal Mail staff and railway workers are currently participating in long-running industrial action to resolve disputes about salary and working conditions. 

Ironically, the crux of the matter is job security, yet the prolonged absence from work only strengthens the argument for investing in automation that will, ultimately, reduce headcount.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are metaverse meetings the answer to engaging hybrid workers?

Meetings culture for hybrid workers is broken, according to recent reports and analyses. Some 43% of 31,000 workers polled from across 31 countries by Microsoft earlier this year said they don’t feel included in meetings. Some organizations are turning to the metaverse to make meetings more engaging. But can that really be the answer long term?

Despite its current low level of capability, numerous organizations have embraced the metaverse for meetings and not just for novelty value. One such business is Battenhall, which has created working spaces for employees in Meta’s Horizon Workrooms — a virtual reality meeting space it has developed — and an online game platform Roblox. “Meetings are one of the things that [the metaverse] is particularly useful for right now,” said London-based founder and CEO Drew Benvie.

For the last ten months, Benvie has used weekly team meetings in the metaverse. “Staff members reported that it increases feelings of togetherness for those working from home over traditional phone calls or video meetings,” he said. “While the metaverse is generally considered to be in its infancy … it makes Zoom calls feel prehistoric.”

Moreover, it’s what many workers want, especially younger cohorts. So finds Owl Labs’ new State of Hybrid Work report, which polled over 2,000 full-time U.K. employees. Indeed, 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they want an office metaverse, and a further 23% would be keen to work in VR. 

However, plenty of skeptics lurk. “I don’t think the metaverse will solve any of the issues [around engaging remote workers],” said Ariel Camus, founder and CEO of Microverse, a school that trains software engineers. “In fact, I think it will create new problems because there are new technological barriers for people to join and participate as equals in meetings.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Demand for fully remote jobs is on the decline

Is the desire for fully remote roles dwindling? Yes, dramatically, according to Flexa Careers’ most recent installment of the Flexible Working Index, which tracks where, when, and how people prefer to work and what companies offer. 

In August, 60% of job searches on Flexa’s global directory for flexible jobs were for fully remote roles. Yet it plummeted to 44% in September — a drop of 26 percentage points and, in pleasing symmetry, 26.4% — using a sample size of 43,569 searches by those hunting work (83% in the U.K. and 3% in the U.S.) and over 1,290 job adverts.

Interestingly, employers also mirrored the decline: only 10% of fully remote roles were advertised in September. The figure was 24% just a month earlier.

Could we be witnessing the start of seasonal fluctuations in demand for fully remote jobs?

Perhaps the drop in searches for fully remote roles hints at a deeper trend — employees and employers alike have concluded that being out-of-the-office five days a week is counter-productive. Moreover, it is increasing well-being issues and loneliness for some employees and, in turn, making it harder for employers to attract and retain talent. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘It’s a future that’s upon us’: Will robots ever have the top jobs?

How would you feel about having a robot boss? And not just a line manager but the head honcho of the company.

You might think this is an idle, hypothetical question. Indeed, back in 2017, then-Alibaba CEO Jack Ma stated we are mere decades from having robots at the helm of organizations. He predicted that by 2047, a robot CEO would make the cover of Time magazine.

And yet, those provocative guesstimates from five years ago now look generous. In late August, the world’s first artificial intelligence-powered, humanoid robot CEO, called Mika, was appointed to the top job at Dictador, a luxury rum company.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.