t Future of Work

By pjain      Published June 27, 2020, 12:23 a.m. in blog Lambda7   

Analysis of Team-Collab and Productivity vs WFH dynamics

Problem: Idiot-proof WFH Technology - it is a problem NOW

According to the surveyed companies, one thing that is not working very well when employees stay home is technology. That is not a shocker. And anyone who's ever been on a conference call knows that, you know, these things never go as planned.

Employees will figure it out over time

These tech stumbles will probably be fixed over time as people stick it out, you know, 3, 6, maybe 12 months down, people will get more and more used to using these new systems from home.

Problem : Kids at home - highly distracting - hard to work in, noise

As schools are not open, so a lot of workers are just stuck at home pulling double duty - work and parenting.

That is a tough environment to do work in.

This is much harder to fix right now. But eventually, in the post-pandemic future, schools will reopen, and parents working from home will get that time back.

Problem: Lack of Office Social Bonding

The office is a social place that can satisfy a real human need for personal connection - the collaboration, the in-jokes, celebrating accomplishments together. All that stuff is hard to replicate on a Zoom chat. And some of us really miss it.

Problem: Magic of tight team cohesion, Collaboration, Problem Solving

Working from home is VERY DIFFERENT from the way business in creative or technology have got an edge over competitors by bringing teams together to invent.

  1. Ex In R&D situations, one of the biggest architectural innovation was to NOT have stairs between teams but allow them to meander seamlessly. The collaboration and lack of such "minimal" boundaries boosted greatly the innovation in R&D Labs.

  2. Ex - Silicon Valley or New York or Hollywood are all examples of "Magical Places" for creativity. However as a company disperses in different cities or scatters all throughout the world, is this magic still going to work!

Because when people are close to one another and can discuss ideas together, new and better ideas can often come from those interactions, so you get more creativity, more innovation. ... It's hard to exactly quantify or measure, but there's something in the air about being around workers who are working on the same sorts of problems as you are not just in the office but, you know, socially and, you know, in the same geography. .. This is one of the reasons that so many companies set up their offices in densely packed cities, where the workers can be near a lot of other workers who are just working on those same ideas, the same problems and the same solutions.

Question: what boosts what lowers productivity?

  • During Covid-19 more companies saying that working from home had made their workers more productive.

  • However there were companies saying that it had made them less productive, suggesting that working from home isn't just something that's nice for some workers.

  • survey by Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at Upwork,

COMM: Water cooler culture of work

Remote Work and WFH Trends

ISSUE: Jobs that are WFH riskier of lost income, fewer promotions

  • Surveys in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States to conclude that workers that are less able to do tasks at home are more likely to experience reduced hours, lower earnings, and job losses. - Adams-Prassl et al. 2020, Inequality in the impact of the coronavirus shock: Evidence from real time surveys.
  • Somewhat lower impact shown by this study : Oettinger, Gerald S. 2011. \The Incidence and Wage Consequences of Home-Based Work in the United States, 1980{2000." Journal of Human Resources, 46(2): 237{260.

WFH Trendlines and Huge Potential

  • 3.6% WFH of all US Employees regularly WFH end of 2019, before Covid-19
  • During Covid-19
    • Nearly 95%+ of big-tech jobs FAANG
    • 27 states (mostly Red states) reopened around May 1st

Covid-19, Lockdowns and WFH even after lockdowns lifted

Forced to let millions of employees work from home to avoid contagion, has boosted WFH.

Now companies as diverse from American Express, Facebook, Twitter are saying they will be extending that option to employees even as confinement rules are lifted.

WFH spiked 15% to 50%+ on Covid-19

25% of other jobs can't WFH

During Covid-19, Chances of losing job 33% if you could WFH

You had the option of working from home during coronavirus, and that other person did not. Well, you had about a 33% lower chance of losing your job than that other person because, of course, you could keep working productively.

WFH may be for years even permanently

Companies, like Twitter and Facebook, are changing their plans for the future, announcing that some of their workers will be able to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

WFH produces far less stress due to commute

When people work from home, that means they do not have to have a long, stressful commute.

WFH less distractions form Chit-chatting

For workers, it also means they no longer had to deal with, like, typical office distractions; for example, colleagues stopping by your cubicle to talk about the latest tv show or sports.

WFH trend accelerating -

Lower Costs as Employees relocate to cheaper living costs, non-SALT states

What jobs can be done Remotely, Offshored or WFH?

Analyzing over 1000 occupations as to what is done in them, economists estimate ..

  • 37% of U.S. jobs could be done completely from home, pay more than average wages, and account for 46% of all wages
  • 56% of employees hold a job compatible, at least partially, with remote work.
  • In reality, 25-30% of transport/restaurant/hospitality workers lost their jobs as seen can only be done on-site (not really as call center/support)

Examples of how they analyzed the jobs that cannot be WFH - they deal with violent people at least once a week - policemen, jailers, military - Majority say they work outdoors every day - eg meter maids, - They are exposed to diseases or infection at least once a week - nurses, nursing home workers - Spent majority of time walking or running - postal workers, utility linemen - Respondent says they spent majority of time wearing common or specialized protective or safety equipment

ISSUE: Offshoring of Jobs that are WFH

  • Blinder, Alan. 2009. \How Many US Jobs Might be Offshorable?" World Economics, 10(2): 41{78.
  • Blinder, Alan S., and Alan B. Krueger. 2013. \Alternative Measures of Offshorability: A Survey Approach." Journal of Labor Economics, 31(S1): 97{128.

Globalization, Manufacturing and Supply Chains

Manufacturing Economies - less WFH than USA

Developing Countries - much less WFH

Applying similar occupational classification to 85 other countries reveals that lower-income economies have a lower share of jobs that can be done at home as US is more of a service economy. Developing and emerging market countries with per capita GDP levels below one-third of US levels may only have half as many jobs that can be done from home.

Saltiel, Fernando. 2020. \Who Can Work From Home in Developing Countries?" 6 April mimeo.

Supply Chains

  • Bonadio, Barth´el´emy, Zhen Huo, Andrei A Levchenko, and Nitya Pandalai-Nayar. 2020. Global supply chains in the pandemic." National Bureau of Economic Research.

Employee USP and PoV

Benefits of Remote Working for Employees

Employers USP and PoV

Benefits of Remote Working for Employers

Having an employee work from home half the time can save an employer $11,000 a year in increased productivity, lower real estate costs and reduced absenteeism - Global Workplace Analytics, a consultant on workplace trends and strategies.

ISSUE: Employers worried about Productivity

Companies that had been hesitant about taking that step have concluded they can benefit from telecommuters, after all.

---- FoW ----

1. Role of AI and automation

2. Change in Work Models and Structures

The changing models for work and work structure. This involves questions around independent work, the gig economy, and what people sometimes refer to as fissured work—whether people work as outsourced services or not.

3. How will workplace change, HRI, side-by-machines

4. High Rate of Disruption: Changing Role of Employees - Contractors, Gig Economy, Outsourced work

5. Different Automation for Different categories of skills/tasks/jobs

  • If you take 2000+ activities or tasks you get different categories of tasks.

  • Activities differ by category but 3 of 8 are relatively easy to automate (as studied by McKinsey) comprise 51% of economic output in developed US/EU

  • involve data collection of one sort of another,
  • involve data processing of one sort or another,
  • involve doing physical work in highly structured and predictable environments.

However jobs typically comprise of 20-30 tasks or activities. So even if many are automatable, the overall job may still be 50% not "replaceable" at least not right away.

So while 51% of tasks are automatable, if you recheck how many JOBS (with 20-30 tasks each) have majority of tasks that are automatable, then perhaps only 5% of human jobs are replacable.

So maybe the 51% of tasks are automated, but people have to become MORE versatile, doing the remaining tasks. So there will be fewer jobs, but they will get more flexible, complex and diverse.

6. Creating of new jobs and support roles for automation

For example a grocery clerk checking inventory walks around the store (rovers/AV), picks up or moves items (manipulators), uses eyes to scan and count items (computer vision), inputs on a keyboard/scanner (easy for computers/robots). Individually all these may work just fine with a robot checking the aisles and verifying inventory and loss detection/prevention. However it still may require one person to at least

Similarly another highly automatable task would be to clean floors and polish/wax them.

So in a large 100,000 sq.ft. Walmart supercenter, there may be 5-10 such robots but may require a person to be on call to troubleshoot e.g. if robot gets toppled or tangled up in cords.

7. Capital/Technology to enable Automation and Pace of Adoption

  • Is the Technology available, or it is in R&D? Is it battle tested?
  • What is the cost to develop and deploy those technologies?
  • Tradeoffs of labor-market supply and cost dynamics ie relative cost of having people vs automation.
  • What is the availability of people who can do that task instead of a machine?
  • Robustness. Will a kid pouring water or tripping cords destroy an expensive machine?
  • What is the quality needed - can it serve customers properly?
  • What are the skills associated with the labor force to setup, install and maintain automation?

Competitiveness and L&D of Companies, Nations

Income Issue: Effectively minimum - stagnation esp. wage driven - inequality

  • Can people work and make enough to make a living and raise families

Most advanced economies, over the last decade, have seen this huge stagnation of incomes, at least wage-driven incomes for workers and households.

Aging in Developed, Stagnant GDP - Automation can restore productivity and living standards

Since WWII, but especially after 1980s there has been a fantastic rise in GDP. But now the developed world is aging rapidly, esp. Japan and EU even China.

So GDP and productivity stagnate as the demographic tailwind turns into a headwind. Now the elderly have to be supported with 2:1 workers as compared to early 20:1. This is on top of lifespans jumping from 60-65 to 80+ in developed countries.

So automation will both replace the now lack of labor, as well as turbo-charge productivity.

Dysfunctional Labor Markets, lack of Skilled Workers yet High Unemployment rates

Before Covid-19, the official unemployment rate was very low in Q4'19 like 5%.

Companies struggled to fill open positions. Companies complain the fluidity of labour markets has been declining, there continues to be skill mismatches between the talent available and the skills that businesses say they need.

At the same time, real employment was far lower as some 38 percent of US working-age adults are unemployed, inactive, or working only part-time.

Post Covid-19, about 20-25% added, so now the majority is unemployed ie. under 45%.

Online Talent Marketplaces and Flexible Gig platforms help

Online talent platforms are injecting new efficiency and transparency into the job market. So far the biggest beneficiaries have been highly skilled professionals, but this approach can be expanded to a wider set of occupations eg Labor Ready is a company for construction workers on demand. Similarly, nursing is a profession where demand can fluctuate or people quit.

Data about skills, jobs, demand and supply is vital - Transparency needed

Also these online platforms are gold mines of the opportunity to use the data being gathered by these platforms to reinvent our system of skills development.

For example Glassdoor tells about salary and hiring practices of companies and used that to beat out prior top job boards.

Rise of Women in Workplace and Gender Equity

Entry to near omnipresence of women has led to a lot of the rise in household income, living standards (and rapid rise in house costs).

However this varies widely by country. The world could add up to $12 trillion to annual GDP in 2025 if all countries match the best-performing country in their region on measures of gender parity (McKinsey estimate).

Inequality, Real Wage Stagnation for decades

Some 60 to 70 percent of people in advanced economies did see their incomes grow after inflation.

Disappearance of Upward Mobile paths for Labor and Skills development

America was built on farm economy and exports of commodities, but now only 1-2% of jobs in agriculture. due to automation. After WWII, a lot of people got great construction jobs in factories, or went to college on GI bills to become engineers, etc. The gateway factory jobs have moved offshore. Now college is really hard to afford, student loans don't get paid off even for 30+ years after graduation.

Teens used to work part-time and summer jobs to get job experience, and college students could pay for costs by working part-time. No more, as college degrees cost $250,000 yet yield vastly higher salaries.

However now lower and middle class kids now get locked out,. Even college degrees are getting devalued as now 60% have college degrees unlike past

Online MOOCs, Schools for Retraining at Far lower Costs

Implications for reskilling needs - Companies cant find workers who can't find jobs

The most digitized industries have posted the fastest wage growth, but they make up only about 19 percent of total US employment. Workers who lack digital skills are increasingly being bypassed by the new economy.

So this mismatch happens - as workers need to reskill to fit the changing needs.

Competitiveness of Nations

Automation in various forms is one of the mechanisms and ways in which we improve economy-wide productivity.

Pace of Automation

In 46 countries, which are a mixture of developed economies and developing economies, .. by 2030 maybe a range .. midpoint of 16% of jobs would have been automated. [But by country/sector it] has a very wide range: at the low end, it could be very little, and at the high end, it could go all the way up to about 30 [but 20% for developed, much lower <10% for developing where wage rates] - James Manyika, McKinsey

Where should we redeploy the People

Key Factors, Trends, Timing

Automation Benefits - Productivity, Less Waste

Companies cannot ignore the benefits of automation.

In the past farm machinery, use of energy (water,wind,steam, oil, electric), corporatization, financialization, insurance of trade/transport risk, spreading over large regions (eg US/EU), economies of scale, globalization, complex supply chains, and more.

There are all kinds of performance improvements from reducing error rates, being able to do predictions better, and being able to discover novel, new solutions or insights. The benefits in a use-case sense to businesses are hard to disregard and ignore.

RISK: Massive automation could lead to Deflation

Why NOW? Industry4.0 is different from prior Industrialization

Massive Advances Robotics, AI than machine toools in past

This apparent rate of progress on top of Moore's law and AI algorithms is what’s probably changed the entire nature of the conversation.

Qualitative "Perceptual" difference - This time it seems to be different

  • in past adding POWER TOOLS - muscle alongside human operators/drivers
  • Automating repetitive work - eg CNC scripted
  • Software "robots" that are Programmed by humans, scripted
  • Now it seems that machines - tacit knowledge, no algo - ML/DL - can figure out for themselves

NOW Replacing higher percentage of jobs

Feels different as penetrating massively - higher and higher percentage of work can be replace humans

Resources

James Manyika, who is the chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute; he’s also a senior partner at McKinsey and is based in the San Francisco office.


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