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Where we do work will continue to be a major consideration in workforce planning, according to Dr Carl Benedict Frey, economist and director of the Future of Work programme at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School.
Rather than the switch to remote working meaning the location of work becomes irrelevant, there is “nothing to suggest place will become less important in terms of where we do work”, he told delegates the CIPD’s Festival of Work conference.
Dr Frey is one of the authors of Oxford’s 2013 often-quoted research into the impact of artificial intelligence, which estimated that 47% of jobs are at risk of automation. He said the question for organisations now was what type of work should be done remotely and when.
“Remote working is not something that can be done in every job, or every industry. Our research suggests that on balance, onsite teams can produce more foundational, more disruptive innovations and discoveries than distributed teams.”
Rather than adopting a blunt hybrid working model that divides employees into coming into the office on certain days of the week, he advised organisations to consider location through the lens of their product lifecycles.
“In the early stages of idea generation, knowledge spillover matters a lot, so place matters a lot. This is when you want people in the office,” he explained.
“But once you’re moving into production and things are more standardised and routinised, then you can move to home.”
This could however mean that we see a resurgence in offshoring aspects of the production process, he added: “Technology will