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October 31, 2022

IFOW Newsletter October 2022 | The view from IFOW

Dear Friends of IFOW,

As we wait for the Autumn Statement, we’ve been flagging an increasingly pressing need for sustained investment in future good jobs to carry us out of the cost-of-living crisis and tackle 'stagflation'.

In stark contrast to our political landscape, it's business as usual for regulators and AI Standards this month. We're pleased to have fed into the new draft guidance from the ICO on monitoring at work, and helped with the launch of the UK’s AI Standards Hub. There's potential here to support SMEs and others to adapt technology responsibly, sharpen regulatory remits and highlight gaps in coverage.

We will be supporting the development of the vertical pillars, and encourage your engagement. Create an account on the AI Standards Hub to join forum discussions, receive updates and indicate your willingness around involvement.

Relatedly, next month we’re co-hosting an event with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Future of Work to explore the role of the regulators, CDEI and AI Standards Hub to promote future good work. The event, which will be held on Wednesday 30 November, 16:00–17:00 GMT in the Houses of Parliament. Find out more and register to attend.

We’re also really pleased to share that our Future of Work and Wellbeing Conference, which is generously supported by the Nuffield Foundation, has now been rescheduled for Wednesday 25 January 2023. This is a full-day, hybrid conference exploring the latest perspectives on the implications of how automation technologies are transforming work, society and the economy.

Lastly, we are on the lookout for a new member to join our team to help us develop our networks and relationships across senior executives, academics, politicians and influencers to advance our mission to shape a fairer future through better work. Find out more about the role, and apply to be our Partnerships Lead by Friday 4 November 2022.

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Deep dive – Remote platform working

A new study has found that remote ‘platform’ work is exacerbating, not healing, the rural and urban divide.

Research by a team of academics at the Oxford Internet Institute has found that differing internet infrastructure, the local economy and human capital determine whether a region will host a vivid remote-worker community or not.

This is based on an analysis of 139 countries, mapping platform jobs to sub-national geographies. The study found that labour-market polarisation runs across three dimensions: between countries, between rural and urban areas within countries and also between occupations and skills sets.

Overall, remote work is being pulled towards urban areas across the globe. This points towards the connection between place-bound institutions and remote work, and the importance of investigating the distribution of skills across geographies. Labour-market participation is then heavily linked to urban areas as knowledge building, training and professional networks tend to be concentrated in urban areas.

For more on remote working and hybrid working, why not watch back the last APPG on the Future of Work event The future is flex: Flexible work is here to stay, companies and policy need to adapt.

Interesting reads

AI and job quality
The Partnership of AI has released a new report on AI and job quality, which builds on existing research on the experience of AI at work. Their research found that the negative and positive impacts are unevenly distributed and often follow existing factors of inequality such as geography, race and gender.

The report foregrounds the following themes considering opportunities for different stakeholders in the AI ecosystem:

  1. Executive and managerial decisions shape AI’s impacts on workers, for better and worse.
  2. Workers appreciate some aspects of AI in their work where it helps them in their jobs.
  3. Workplace AI harms repeat, continue, or intensify known possible harms from earlier technologies.
  4. Current AI applications often serve to reduce people’s autonomy, judgement, empathy and creativity.
  5. Empowering workers early increases opportunities to implement AI that benefits workers and their employers.

The gender gap: Insecure work in the UK

Drawing from the UK Insecure Work Index, this analysis finds that women are nearly twice as likely (1.8 times) as men to be in insecure work. This is compounded for mothers, disabled women and women from Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, and is reflected across all levels of seniority. Women in the most senior positions are twice as likely to experience severely insecure work. Recommendations span from a review of Statutory Sick Pay to flexible working and reporting duties.

Manifesto for fairer platform work

The Fairwork Foundation has published the Manifesto for fairer platform work calling for fair pay, fair representation, fair contracts and, fair management. And, in case you missed it, back in June they published their yearly rating of the UK gig economy.

What monitoring measures are acceptable when managing remote workers?

The CIPD has commissioned a survey of over 2,000 HR and other bosses to understand their views on technology over the next three years. This article by Hayfa Mohdzaini explores some of the findings related to perceptions of acceptability among HR leaders and other bosses when it comes to monitoring measures. We note that four in ten bosses or HR leaders don’t think it’s acceptable to monitor remote workers but three in ten (28%) said their organisation use task management software, time-tracking software or check employees’ work saved in a cloud folder.

Towards a sociology of meaningful work

This article by Knut Laaser and Jan Ch Karlsson explores a lack of consensus over the definition and key components of meaningful work, raising questions as to how it is experienced and created. Bridging the gap between subjective and objective dimensions, the authors introduce a novel sociological framework using autonomy, dignity and recognition as key pillars for the concepts.

ILO workshop on an ILO Policy Observatory on Work in the Digital Economy

This one-day workshop, led by IFOW Senior Research Fellow, Professor Phoebe Moore of the University of Essex, saw speakers from across the globe interrogate emergent AI regulation nationally, and the implications for AI deployment in the workplace. The recording is now live. A headline quote was:

"What's the point in a robust audit regime without rights to underpin it?" – Mariana Valente on Regulating AI in Brazil

We look forward to exploring this exact question in the UK.


Why are levels of pay so different across the country?

12:30–13:30 GMT | Wednesday 2 November 2022

Xiaowei Xu, Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies leads an online event to explain what we currently know about regional inequality in pay, and how it has changed over time. The event will also explore the role of skills in driving differences between areas, and what we can do to start fixing these issues.

Levelling up work across the UK?

14:00–15:00 GMT | Tuesday 15 November 2022

The Work Foundation and a panel of experts review the labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics, and what they mean for levelling-up workers, businesses and communities across the UK.

Why it's more important than ever to guarantee security in work

10:00–11:00 GMT | Wednesday 16 November 2022

For Living Wage Week, the Living Wage Foundation hosts a panel of Living Hours accredited employers who will discuss their motivation for committing to guaranteed working hours for their employees and the impact accreditation has had on their various organisations. They will also explain the process of accreditation – what's involved and the kind of challenges they faced.

WorkerTech Unconference, Meetup and Mixer

17:00–19:30 GMT | Monday 21 November 2022

Resolution Ventures, in partnership with Bethnal Green Ventures, is hosting an evening of discussion, idea generation and networking for everyone interested in creating a fairer future of work.

Regulating AI work: What's next?

16:00–17:00 GMT | Wednesday 30 November 2022

An APPG on the Future of Work session to explore the role of the UK's regulators, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) and new AI Standards Hub to promote future good work as part of building a responsible AI ecosystem.


Partnerships Lead

As IFOW grows a network of partners, we have created a new role for someone who excels in relationship building and development, to help us take these partnerships forward and search out new opportunities to advance our mission.  

Find out more and apply by Friday 4 November 2022.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this, and know someone else that would benefit, please share it with them. If someone has forwarded this to you, and you would like to receive this update yourself, please subscribe here.

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


Anna Thomas MBE


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