Blog and news
Four colleagues standing together
April 2, 2024

IFOW April 2024 Newsletter | The View from IFOW

We hope that you had a restful Bank Holiday weekend. This always seems to mark the transition towards spring, summer and new growth. We were delighted to help launch last week our Head of Comms’ new book God-Like: A 500-Year History of AI, which seeks to understand where AI has come from in order to learn how to live alongside it.


We are also excited to be launching our Responsible AI Sandbox at The Shard on 22nd April. Through the Sandbox we will be working to support businesses to adopt new technologies with confidence and, learning from their experiences, informing practical application of good work-focused AI governance approaches that will make for good regulation.

The Sandbox has a panel of UK regulators, plus a cohort of professional accreditation bodies overseeing professionals who hold responsibility for AI at work. If you are responsible for driving innovation within your business, and would like to come to the launch, please get in touch.


Just a few days before, the APPG on the Future of Work is meeting to discuss productivity, and the scale and geography of disruption that new technologies are bringing. We have an expert panel to speak to this - including Anna Leach, Professor Philip McCann and Professor Simon Deakin – and the session will be informed by new research from IFOW’s Pissarides Review, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and Digital Futures at Work Research Centre.

We're also hiring a Head of Partnerships. As IFOW grows its network of partners, we have created this new role for someone who excels in relationship building. We are looking for a strategic thinker and communicator, who can build meaningful professional relationships, translate theoretical and practical ideas, and balance different needs in real time. This role will build and operationalise strategic partnerships to ensure we achieve our mission. If you’re passionate about a fairer future of better work and want to engage in the practical work of making it happen, please get in touch.

Anna, Abby and the IFOW team

Deep Dive - how does exposure to digital technologies impact people's wellbeing at work?


Last month we published new research based on a sample of nearly 5000 UK employees that, for the first time, explored how exposure to AI software, digital ICTs, wearables and robotics correlate with the most widely accepted, multidimensional measure of health-related quality of life: EuroQol EQ-5D-3L.

Covered in The Guardian here, the study found significant variation in employees’ quality of life correlated to increased levels of exposure to different workplace technologies. In particular:

  • Quality of life improved as frequency of interaction with ICT such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and real-time messaging tools increased.
  • Quality of life negatively correlated with frequency of interaction with newer workplace technologies such as wearables, robotics, AI and ML software.
  • Perceived rights at work, and HR philosophies that emphasise employee wellbeing, have a positive correlation with quality of life.

All of this points towards how human flourishing and wellbeing should be an overarching, cross-cutting objective. To achieve this, we need better and more accessible data and multidimensional measurements of quality of life indicators to supersede the ‘one-size-fits-all’ subjective approach.

Further work – publishing shortly – will examine how job quality interacts with exposure to new technologies. It is changes to job quality that we believe impact wellbeing. This reflects choices made about how technology is designed, developed and deployed.  

Interesting reads / listens

What we don't talk about when we talk about AI

Daniel Stanley from the Future Narratives Lab has written this piece in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's series on 'People-Centred AI'. “At every level, predominant AI narratives direct attention, energy and debate away from a true accounting of the costs and consequences of the whole system, excluding the public, and allowing already powerful people to capture value. If AI is to operate in the public interest, this must be reckoned with.”

'The State of the North' report


The Institute of Public Policy Research have published their 'State of the North' report for 2024 setting out a decade's long course of action to bring about renewal. "The North’s communities are ambitious for a better future, but face systemic and pronounced inequalities. Gaps in power, wealth, opportunity, and health result in shorter, sicker, less fulfilling lives."  This resonates well with our own work at IFOW in our annual Good Work Monitor, examining access to good work across 203 local authorities - the latest iteration of which is publishing shortly.

The role of policy in the future of AI

The Institute of Public Policy Research published a report last week exploring what policy's role is as an incoming technological wave is on the horizon led by generative AI. Authored by Carsten Jung and Bhargav Srinivasa Desikan, the analysis concluded that a 'job apocalypse' is avertable and that an alternative future is possible - if government, employers and unions act to preserve and create new automation-safe jobs. This has been the focus of IFOW's work on Responsible AI adoption, and what the Responsible AI Sandbox will be actively working for.

Should workers fear AI adoption?

Connected to the IPPR report above, our co-founder and Nobel Laureate, Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, has used a piece in Project Syndicate to examine the most common fears of AI, seeking to reassure workers that fears of job losses are 'overblown'. In this, he references the Old Skills, New Skills report that we published last month as part of the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Making sure unions have a voice in how AI is implemented

Supporting this view, the president of the AFL-CIO – based in the US and representing over 12 million workers – has set out why this process of empowering workers—from warehouse associates to software engineers—is the most powerful tactic to ensure that AI develops in the interests of the many, not the few.


Growing more productive - APPG on the Future of Work (17th April, Westminster)

Automation and AI have been hailed as technological solutions that could deliver step-changes in UK productivity, but how are these disrupting technologies really playing out in the UK economy? It is important to understand better the geography and scope of how new technologies are impacting labour markets, and what the fiscal and labour law environment does to support growth.

Co-chairs Lord Jim Knight and Matt Warman MP will be joined by an expert panel, including Anna Leach (Deputy Chief Economist at the CBI), Professor Simon Deakin (Professor of Law at Cambridge University) and Professor Philip McCann (Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at Alliance Manchester Business School). Places are limited, so please do reserve a space here as soon as possible.

Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy Conference (15-16th April, Cambridge)


Our friends at the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy are hosting a conference "arranged around a principle of open and inclusive discussion." There is a full programme of sessions exploring the challenges of democracy in an age of technological transformation. More information here.

MIT Technology Review - EmTech Digital Insights Conference (16-17th April, London + online)

Our Co-Founder and Co-Director, Anna Thomas, will be speaking at this major conference on how generative AI is impacting business, and what the key regulator questions are around this disruptive technology. If you would like to attend, you can register here. IFOW has been given a special discount code (SPKRGUEST50) that gives 50% off the full ticket price, if purchased before 6th April.

Everything you needed to know about fiscal devolution (11th April, online)

In this webinar, the Centre for Cities will take people through ideas from Welsh council tax reform to streamlining the grants system for local council funding and the next stage for English devolution. Join Associate Director Anthony Breach for a deep dive bringing together their work on fiscal devolution, growth and fairer taxation. Our work at IFOW has long emphasised the need for local future of work compacts and devolution deals to help close inequalities.

Policymaking beyond Westminster - economic lessons from 25 years of devolution (29th April, London + online)

Carrying on the theme, The Resolution Foundation is convening an in-person and online morning conference exploring - after 25 years of devolution - what has been learned and what the future holds. Speakers include John Swinney, Former Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Professor Katy Hayward from Queen’s University Belfast.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this newsletter and know someone else who would benefit from it, please do share it with them. If someone has forwarded this to you and you would like to receive future newsletters yourself, please subscribe here.

Make sure that you follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to get the latest news on all that we are doing - and do come and join us on the non-Musk(y) Twitter alternative BlueSky too as we make a new home there.

If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions for future round-ups, please drop us a line at


Anna Thomas MBE


Sign up to our newsletter

We would love to stay in touch.

Our newsletters and updates let you know what we’ve been up to, what’s in the pipeline, and give you the chance to sign up for our events.

You can unsubscribe at anytime by clicking the link at the bottom of our emails or by emailing Read our full privacy policy including how your information will be stored by clicking the link below.