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The Future is Made Here
The pandemic has connected the world. How we construct work now will define all of our futures

The Future is Made Here


The pandemic is changing the way that we all think about work and where we do it. In the UK house prices are surging outside of London as people leave the capital in search of space and perceived quality of life. Across the world, companies have become used to people working remotely from home. Increasingly companies are hiring without regard to a persons proximity to the office. Most companies seem likely to require people to come to an office less than 5 days a week. Equally international travel has been replaced with widespread use of digital platforms and executives have discovered that it mostly seems to work.


Current logic suggests that this will mean reduced travel, especially commuting, which would suggest more balanced societies that are less skewed towards growth poles and lower carbon footprints for all. However, the discovery that technology is making place almost irrelevant is producing two new trends. First, led by the big tech firms, it is enabling global companies to search for talent in far flung places. In Romania there is much talk of how Facebook is offering senior developers salaries far above the local labour market. Far from equalising labour markets, this indicates the emergence of differential global and local labour markets, which is likely to entrench the dominance of existing firms, who will attract higher value talent. Second, if people can be based anywhere and only need to be in a corporate office irregularly why not make use of low cost flights and live in a different country? After all the cost of a flight and a couple of nights in a hotel every month or two may well be less than a regular commute into a major business capital. Once again the expansion of an emerging global elite is likely to counteract the smaller carbon footprint of locally based labour markets by increasing theirs.


None of these trends is certain as the post-pandemic world is very much still under construction. However, if we read these weak signals well we can design societies that encourage sustainable behaviour that delivers broad benefits without compromising the dynamic opportunities being created. This would, of course, require leadership, vision and a capability to think beyond managerial best practices that appears sadly absent amongst the leaders of the developed world right now. In such a situation the challenge is therefore for business leaders to step up and show more value can be created by being sustainable and building community has more to offer than short term financial gains. An example of the former is the piloting of train services from London to Edinburgh based upon the low cost airline model. If adopted more widely it wouldn’t replace trans-continental low cost flights (such as Bucharest to London), but it would enable a person to live in Poland and have an employer in Southern Germany, or live in Bucharest and work regularly in Cluj, without the need for a flight. Furthermore, the so-called war for talent that is emerging between the tech giants and local firms in countries like Romania won’t be won by the local firms with cash. With limited financial resources, they will have to develop benefits packages that draw more heavily upon intrinsic than extrinsic motivation.  Commitment is not an entirely transactional commodity, but it doesn't just happen either.


The future is being made today in the thoughts and decisions of entrepreneurs and managers all around us. Be conscious of what part you are playing and if you need support or simple to exchange ideas please contact us at any time.


Below are some materials about this topic and a book to guide you to think more systemically:

Andy Taylor, 27.10.2021