Sunday, August 1, 2021

The future of work: Coming sooner than you think

Prior the pandemic, you could ask a dozen people what “the future of work” meant and get 13 different answers. Some insisted it was about distributing discrete responsibilities among two-pizza teams, while others preached about robots eliminating jobs and the need for universal basic income as compensation.

Then COVID-19 pressed the fast-forward button, and we learned about the immediate, practical future of work in a hurry. The most obvious lesson – you don’t need to be at the office to get stuff done – was already understood in tech, just never proven at scale. We’re only starting to grasp the implications of that real-world confirmation.

Writing for Computerworld, contributor Mike Elgan draws on his own long experience as a digital nomad in “Remote work 2.0 — when WFH really means ‘work from anywhere’” to make a bold prediction: Tech workers will migrate en masse from high-priced urban tech hubs to cheaper, less populous locales with lower risk of contagion.

That trend, already underway in some regions, plays right into the hands of certain US states (including Ark., Okla., and Vt.) looking to lure tech workers, not to mention entire countries, such as Croatia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. But as Elgan notes, the HR, payroll, tax, and legal complexities of global geographic dispersal should not be underestimated. The brave new world of pervasive remote work is going to be complicated.

CIO contributor Stacy Collette focuses on a related set of considerations in “7 key questions facing the future of work,“ but with an eye toward solving near-term problems like setting up a hybrid workplace or hiring remotely. She also touches on the impact of automation, a key component of any serious examination of the future of work. The standard line is that automation of menial tasks will free up workers for more meaningful work – but that generally entails reskilling, which as many as half of workers may need, according to a World Economic Forum study cited by Collette.

Both Elgan and Collette flag cybersecurity as another sticking point in a remote-friendly world — but CSO contributor Peter Wayner really gets down to cases in “6 top security technologies to protect remote workers.” Some of what he recommends amounts to basic enterprise security hygiene, such as multi-factor authentication, identity and access management, and encryption for code and data in the cloud. But Wayner also goes out of his way to highlight two exciting trends: zero trust and SASE (secure access service edge).

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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