Will you ever want a hug from a robot? 50 Questions about the Future of Work

The truth about the future of work will become a little clearer as each day passes, but it is never too early to ask curious questions.

Here are my 50 questions for you to ponder about the future of work - whether on your own, out loud or in teams.

I've pledged that to anybody who takes the time to answer all 50 I will be happy to host their responses on this site to broaden the debate. For an example see this response from SImon Heath and the comments below from the ever positive Steve Browne

1.       What roles can't be automated?

2.       What roles shouldn't be automated?

3.       Financial markets, left to their own devices, aren't good at accommodating a greater social purpose – do we need to take more of an interventionist stance to ensure greater societal benefit?

4.       At what point do we stop running out of corporate scandals? How can we get more proactive at asking difficult questions of organisations as employees and consumers?

5.       Does an organisation with a social purpose have an advantage or a limitation?

6.       What work might be most impacted by changes in international border policy or digitisation making borders redundant?

7.       Who is accountable for my wellbeing?

8.       If my employer is responsible for making sure I'm not under undue stress - then am I responsible for managing my diet to ensure I'm delivering peak performance?

9.       Can you automate creativity - and if so will we still only feel something is creative if it is produced by a human?

10.   How do we balance the concepts of diversity with the drive for cultural fit?

11.   Is the Gen X,Y,Z & millennial terminology helpful for understanding or lazy stereotyping?

12.   What's the point of work? To get happiness? Make a difference? Recognition? Will the point of work change and how might it do so?

13.   How do we step away from a 9-5 working week construct together?

14.   How much longer will income and wage inequality be tolerated by those on the wrong side of the stats?

15.   How many more years of casual sexism in workplaces do we have before that dies a death?

16.   If whole chunks of your life are viewable on the internet will we become more tolerating of mistakes at work?

17.   The image of everyone working on the beach is an attractive one – but what does this mean for introverts or people with mobility issues?

18.   Do I own my data or am I just a data point?

19.   You can already automate 'congratulations' messages on Linkedin. How much effort can you remove from a gesture before it becomes meaningless?

20.   If I can outsource work cheaply to another country is that simply the free market in action (and an easy decision) or should I care more about the wellbeing of people I already employ?

21.   If work is to become more transient (the gig economy) then who takes responsibility for long term capability building of people? If I'm only with an organisation for 6 months then why would they invest in me?

22.   The more we understand about the mind the easier it is to manipulate it. How do we build in ethical safeguards within organisations?

23.   How much do we really know about the organisations that curate the world's information and present it back to you and how much do you need to know?

24.   Is happiness a legitimate business and economic outcome?

25.   What is the best way for groups to create influence and make a difference in a digital age?

26.   Why do organisational IT solutions still tend to be more expensive yet less useful than consumer solutions?

27.   Does the age of automation mean that a universal basic payment to all is required?

28.   When we do save time where does it go? For all the automation and efficiency I don't hear many people saying they have more time to relax

29.   What aspects of our behaviour is it appropriate to legislate for? Is restricting access to company communications after hours unnecessarily interfering or saving us from ourselves?

30.   Will you ever want a consoling hug from a robot?

31.   Why are so many organisations already designed and led as though the workers are robots?

32.   What does not having to leave your home to work, socialise or shop do to fitness levels over time?

33.   What are the chances the world left by this generation will be better than the one left to us?

34.   Do children entering school need to read or write - or will those be surplus skills by the team they leave school?

35.   What are the issues that we are sleepwalking towards now that we will regret not taking action on sooner? (thanks to Siobhan Sheridan at the NSPCC for this)

36.   What are the opportunities that we will regret taking?

37.   How much of our enhanced technical capability will be channeled into solving societal problems and how much into increasing profits?

38.   How do you get a mortgage in the 'Gig Economy'?

39.   Does the Sharing Economy really share - or does it just collect a smaller margin from a larger volume of workers that are dependent? If we called it the Snaring Economy would it be such a popular concept?

40.   When Prof Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others describe AI as a potentially extinction level threat why do people think they are overstating it? When did we start thinking we had a better grasp on big issues than Stephen Hawking?

41.   How confident are you really that the Financial Services industry is now running as it should - and what are the knock on risks given the fragility of the world economy?

42.   How can we help design roles and organisations that make the most of people?

43.   What are the implications of the current level of gender imbalance within the tech sector over the next decade?

44.   Much of the technology we utilise on a day to day basis would struggle to meet most people's definition of an ethical supply chain. When do we start making different purchasing decisions?

45.   What are the best sources of information on the changing world of work and how can we ensure the independent voices are heard when organisations with the biggest budgets will be looking to exploit this space?

46.   People frequently talk about wanting more equality and higher living standards for others – yet how many people would give up, for instance, 25% of their salary in order to improve the living standards of others?

47.   How will we filter content effectively in the future and how open to abuse is that filtering process?

48.   How do the business role models of the future act?

49.   People cry when their pets die. What will be the first piece of technology that you cry over the loss of?

50.   If you had one contribution to make to making things just a little better over the next decade what would it be? ‚Äč

I hope they have stimulated some thought - the CIPD are at the heart of this debate, but I'm always keen to hear different voices and perspectives - so please feel free to share or get in touch directly. 

Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.

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