The future of work: what next for office life?

Frances Hedges
·3-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Seal, Tabitha Goldstaub, Ann Francke and Margaret Heffernan. Tabitha Goldstaub portrait by Mollie Rose. Rebecca Seal portrait by Steven Joyce
Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Seal, Tabitha Goldstaub, Ann Francke and Margaret Heffernan. Tabitha Goldstaub portrait by Mollie Rose. Rebecca Seal portrait by Steven Joyce

From Harper's BAZAAR

In the final event in our Bazaar At Work Week series, held in association with Porsche and UBS, Shine for Women’s co-founder Caroline Whaley chaired a panel discussion during which Ann Francke, Margaret Heffernan, Tabitha Goldstaub and Rebecca Seal exchanged ideas on how our workspaces will evolve in the wake of the pandemic. Here are a few of their predictions.

Photo credit: Rise Media
Photo credit: Rise Media

Managers will need to show their human side.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute

“When we conduct surveys about the most significant managerial traits, it’s all the human ones: communicating clearly, listening, having empathy. These things, and indeed wellbeing, have risen to the top of the agenda for managers, and I think that can dramatically improve the workplace for everyone. Organisational culture has become so much more important during the pandemic.”

Reverse mentoring will be crucial to a flourishing workplace.

Margaret Heffernan, author, TED expert and professor of practice at the University of Bath

“I’ve always been a passionate supporter of reverse mentoring, where young people mentor more experienced colleagues, which allows both the junior and the senior to do a lot of perspective shifting. Because the younger generation are so disproportionately disadvantaged by this crisis, we owe it to them to put schemes in place that will give them a leg up. We need them to thrive if we’re going to have any kind of future for ourselves.”

Artificial intelligence will help employees to progress.

Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CogX and chair of the AI Council for the UK government’s Office for AI

“Technology isn’t automatically good or evil, so we have to be conscious of both the risks and the rewards. But it doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all response when it comes to how we use tech in the workplace. Take learning and development – there are products out there with AI built in that enable employees to take the time to learn things in their own way, instead of being fed information like we were at school.”

We will do away with archaic working customs.

Rebecca Seal, author and television presenter

“The eight-hour working day and the 35-hour working week are just relics of the Industrial Revolution, because that’s how factories were set up and it was the best campaigners could hope for – so how is that a couple of hundred years later we’re still operating like that? If you were to sit down and redesign a working week that made sense for our families and our brains, it wouldn’t be what we’ve got now. Our biggest opportunity is to get rid of a culture of long hours and presenteeism, and make people’s jobs fit around their lives. You do your job, but you are not your job.”

Buy a ticket to watch the full panel discussion, available for download until 31 December, here. This session is brought to you by Porsche.

You Might Also Like