Blog and news
January 10, 2023

IFOW Newsletter January 2023 | The view from IFOW

I hope that it is still early enough in January to wish you all a Happy New Year. 2023 is undoubtedly going to be hugely challenging, especially around issues connected to work.

The Future of Work and Wellbeing Conference on 25th January thus comes at a critical time and we are delighted to have huge numbers already registered. If you would like to join us online, you can still do so here.

We will be welcoming a stellar array of contributors, including our co-founder Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, Regius Professor of Economics, LSE, as well as:

  • Professor Daron Acemoglu, MIT
  • Nancy Hey, Executive Director, What Works Centre for Wellbeing
  • Dr Jennifer Dixon, CEO, The Health Foundation
  • Lord Jim Knight, House of Lords
  • Anna Leach, Deputy Chief Economist, Confederation of British Industry
  • Professor Lynda Gratton, London Business School
  • Professor John Van Reenen, London School of Economics
  • Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, Stanford  

We will also be hosting in-depth conversations with Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for DCMS and Matt Warman MP, former lead for the government’s Future of Work Review.

The current unrest in labour markets speaks to the growing need for good work and workplace wellbeing. As Sir Christopher Pissarides put it in a recent extended piece included in the Capgemini Research Institute’s report on ‘Nurturing the Future of Work’:

Good work encompasses more than employment. It promotes dignity, autonomy, and equality. It is subject to fair pay and conditions. And it takes place in an environment that has a sense of community and where people are properly supported to develop their talent.

The most important feature of good work is promoting the engagement of the worker by giving them greater autonomy and opportunities to use their own initiative.

There will be a huge amount coming out of The Pissarides Review this year, and more updates to our Good Work Time Series too, which tracks trends of access to good work across all local authorities.

A challenging year ahead then, but a compelling one too. We wish you all the very best for it, and look forward to engaging with you more over the coming months.

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Interesting reads / listens

Algorithmic Transparency

The Cabinet Office’s Central Digital and Data Office and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation have just published their Algorithmic Transparency Recording Standard Hub, which “helps public sector organisations provide clear information about the algorithmic tools they use, and why they’re using them”. To accompany this launch, Interim Director Sue Bateman and Executive Director Felicity Burch have written a piece in Public Technology reflecting on the importance of transparency when using algorithmic systems.

Algorithmic Risk and Impact Assessments

Connectedly, as the European Union prepares to finalise its Platform Working Directive, Wired Magazine has highlighted a paper co-authored by Aislinn Kelly-Lyth and Anna Thomas on the need for Algorithmic Risk and Impact Assessments. The paper argues that these ARIAs should be preempting issues and that “due regard to anticipated impacts and risk mitigation should be built in from the design and development stages, through to deployment in the workplace”. Doing so will be a key factor in improving relationships between companies and employees.

Strikes at Amazon
As noted in a segment on grievances at an Amazon fulfilment centre that Anna Thomas gave for ITN over the holiday period, when the impact of working practices on wellbeing is not considered by employers, employees are more likely to take action. She argues there that the recent proliferation of strikes will continue if deeper issues around agency and wellbeing are not addressed alongside pay.

AI Narrators
Apple has (quietly) announced a trial of AI narrators for some audiobooks. The issues that this piece in The Guardian raises - both in terms of the opportunities for widening access and the exposure of a group of skilled workers to replacement by AI - is a microcosm of some of the huge changes/challenges coming to labour markets.

Future Work for Girls in STEM
Technologist and author Anne-Marie Imafidon guest edited the Today programme on New Year’s Eve, focusing on the theme of ‘opportunity.’ Listen — from around 16 minutes in — to our Director Anna Thomas speaking about what the future might hold for girls in education now, especially those who are interested in STEM subjects.

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Anna Thomas


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