Lavoro intelligente o distante

Smartworking is not remote - Media Ecology Newsletter #11

Smartworking is an old, new thing. After being possible since decades, it became real with the covid-19 lockdown. But it has been shaped by the architecture of applications used to make it happen, such as Zoom, Meet of Teams. Those are right for remote working, but are they able to make work smart?

Here is my take: Il lavoro del futuro: intelligente o distante.

Who thinks that the remote work that has emerged during the lockdown coincides with a form of smart-working, probably, makes a mistake. The forms of remote work that have been seen in 2020 were defined by the structure of the internet and the applications that were available online. Without other creative and design interventions, remote work will tend to organize itself in the shape of the structure that makes it possible: the architecture of the network, with its current applications, produces disintermediation and reintermediation, concentration of power, polarization in the distribution of resources, cultural trivialization.

Here is some new research about work of the future and a couple of books. We feel we need to understand what’s changing the work. Because it affects all of us. And all of our children.

MIT - The work of the future

November 17, 2020 - How to align new technologies with durable careers? Decades of technological change have polarized the earnings of the American workforce, helping highly educated white-collar workers thrive, while hollowing out the middle class. Yet present-day advances like robots and artificial intelligence do not spell doom for middle-tier or lower-wage workers, since innovations create jobs as well. With better policies in place, more people could enjoy good careers even as new technology transforms workplaces. (Mit News). The full report is here.

WEF - Empower the workforce

October 22, 2020 - This is how to empower the workforce to shape the future of work. The world of work was already experiencing an existential crisis, but COVID-19 has accelerated it. With COVID, AI and automation, jobs are resetting at an accelerated pace, and people are having to catch up.Businesses must ensure that human capital is treated as an asset - not a burden - so that the economic recovery is fuelled by people thriving, adapting and growing so that they can proactively shape the future of work. (World Economic Forum)

McKinsey - What’s next for remote work

November 22, 2020 - Now, well into the pandemic, the limitations and the benefits of remote work are clearer. Although many people are returning to the workplace as economies reopen—the majority could not work remotely at all—executives have indicated in surveys that hybrid models of remote work for some employees are here to stay. The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place, at least for some people. Hybrid models of remote work are likely to persist in the wake of the pandemic, mostly for a highly educated, well-paid minority of the workforce. (McKinsey)

Deloitte - Future of work

December 11, 2020 - The future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces: The growing adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace, and the expansion of the workforce to include both on- and off-balance-sheet talent. What changes could be in store for the workplace, the workforce, and the nature of work itself? The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the long-standing vulnerabilities and risks lurking in organizations’ supply chains. In some cases, it has caused companies to take a hard look at their processes and their business models. In others, it has opened new opportunities for innovation, growth, and competitive advantage in the postpandemic world. Overall, it has demonstrated the power of interconnected, digital supply networks (DSNs) to enable organizations to anticipate, sense, and respond to unexpected changes and minimize their impacts. (Deloitte)

Capgemini - From remote to hybrid work

December 15, 2020 - Remote work is here to stay. Widespread remote working is increasingly becoming the “new normal.” Three-quarters of organizations expect 30% or more of their employees to be working remotely, and over a quarter expect over 70% of their staff to be working remotely. Organizations expect remote models to work well in functions such as IT, finance, and accounting. However, every function will need to transition their operating model to a hybrid operating setup. (Capgemini)

OECD – Remove barriers to work for all generations

December 16, 2020 - Press release - Governments and employers should work together to promote multi-generational workforces to adapt to ongoing changes in the world of work that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new OECD report.

Promoting an Age-Inclusive Workforce says that, by 2050, more than four-in-ten people in the world’s most advanced economies are likely to be aged older than 50. And there will be one person aged 65 and over for every two persons aged 20-64 in OECD economies compared to one for every three today.

Yet current public employment and retirement policies, as well as many corporate practices, are often closely tied to the age of workers, rather than to their actual work capacity and individual needs. Despite older adults being healthier and better educated than ever before today, their talent often remains underutilised and overlooked.

“Promoting greater diversity of experience, generations and talent has the potential to bring enormous benefits to workers, companies and society as a whole,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Employers need to develop initiatives that nurture an age-diverse workplace and take a life-cycle perspective with supportive public policies and good social dialogue.”   

Living standards across the OECD would be improved substantially by increasing the participation of older workers in employment, according to the report. Extending working lives could boost GDP per capita by 19% in 2050 on average in OECD countries if employment rates of older workers everywhere caught up with the best‑performing countries like Iceland and New Zealand.

Age-discrimination remains a common problem across the world, restricting employment choices for older and sometimes even younger workers, representing a considerable cost to business.

Rather than focusing on age, labour market policy should be tailored to different individual circumstances and contexts. This implies eliminating age-bias recruitment practices and encouraging age‑diverse cultures where all workers feel comfortable and appreciated regardless of age.

Retaining talent is key. The report provides evidence that employers who respond positively to the changing needs of employees during their lifecycle and career stages improve their success in attracting, motivating and retaining workers. These workers, in turn, are likely to make a greater contribution to their workplaces, and play a full part in making it efficient and productive.

Along with more flexible working arrangements, implementing returnship programmes and providing opportunities for career and financial planning throughout employees’ lifecycles can act as effective retention policies for both younger and older workers. Reverse mentorships also offer many advantages in the context of multigenerational workplaces and can help breakdown age-stereotypes.

Governments and companies should revise their approach to training and skills development. Currently, only 41% of adults across the OECD take part in job-related training. And employees who are younger, more highly qualified, and on full-time contracts are more likely to receive training than those who are older, lower skilled and working part-time. Encouraging people to maintain and develop their skills during their careers and lifetimes would generate significant productivity gains and help more older people extend their working lives.


Scott Galloway, Post Corona, Penguin 2020: «What we experience is change, not time».

Daniel Susskind, A world without work, Penguin 2020: «Machines will not do everything in the future, but they will do more».

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