Inclusive Uncertainty – The Future of Work

Lyn Hill

Lyn Hill

Current Oxford MBA student Lyn Hill gives her perspective on the Skoll World Forum seminar session ‘The Future of Work’.

” In reality, we have been debating this topic for over a decade now.  While certain roles have become more flexible, most organisations still require individuals to be ‘at the office’.  But what has actually changed and what are the roadblocks preventing further development?

Currently, most discussions on this topic – including yesterday’s seminar at the Skoll World Forum – default to the newest technology disrupting the world of work as we know it, often describing the latest plethora of apps offering to enhance our productivity and effectiveness at an individual and collective level.  In my view, too little of this debate focuses on what is actually required to progress these discussions to a more holistic level and the underlying effects on our existing social and economic structures – both positive and negative.

Future of Work panel

The Future of Work Seminar, L-R: Bettina Warburg, David Jones, Ben Knight

Ben Knight of Loomio touched on one of the direct benefits of liberalising the job market: the increased ability to bring marginalised voices to the table.  Whether individuals seeking work are marginalised due to disability, geography or skills, there is a real chance for society to challenge some of the more rigid structures restricting inclusivity at all levels.  At another level, the ability to collaborate and redefine economic engagement could indirectly facilitate strengthening of family and community structures by creating alternatives to stem the flow of youth and experience to urban centres.  But, what is needed to realistically do this?

I would argue that the precariat concerns of job security and under-employment, are merely symptoms of the more fundamental question of equity and ethics and who will ultimately benefit from this evolving trend.  It is hard to ignore the paradox that whilst this new ‘system’ could engage the existing and untapped workforce in new ways, it could also increase societal risk due to the underlying uncertainty of these roles increasing rather than reducing governments need to provide a social benefit safety net.

Future debate on this topic at Skoll would benefit from more focus on solutions attempting to address these roadblocks at a holistic level rather than merely tackling solutions for a more privileged sector of society. “