After four days packed with events, The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos has closed its doors for another year. And, after hosting speakers including President Trump and Greta Thunberg, it’s been one of the most high-profile yet.

Topics for discussion ranged from sustainability to global politics and cyber security, with industry leaders debating the themes currently circulating in the world’s media.

This year, workplace also formed a sizable portion of the agenda, stimulating conversation around the future of work in relation to age, gender and economic situation. Here we share some of the highlights.

The future of work

According to futurologists, many of the jobs and workplace tasks we know today will cease to exist in five years. Automation has become an increasingly hot topic, with many worried about the impact of robotics on our global workforce.

However, as Anna Bruce-Lockhart points out, “From the days when Luddites smashed looms in pre-industrial Britain to our current worries concerning artificial intelligence, we’ve long considered machines an existential threat to our livelihoods. And yet economies – especially in the developed world – have survived.”

So, how seriously should we be taking this? Experts believe that one thing’s for sure: we’re going to need new skills. "Study after study shows that while technology will alter many roles directly, it’s also set to have indirect effects. As demand for mathematics, computing and data analysis grows, so too will the need for human attributes like creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation," writes Bernadette Wightman, Managing Director of BT Group.

“As demand for mathematics, computing and data analysis grows, so too will the need for human attributes like creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation."
Bernadette Wightman, managing director of BT Group Tweet this

This is supported by a piece by Teresa Carlson on How to develop talent for the digital economy, which explores the increasing demand for cloud-skilled talent, and the resulting necessity for communities to develop and nurture these skills. Read more

Workplace and the ageing population

Longer life expectancy and an increased retirement age in many countries means that baby boomers, generation X, millennials and generation Z are working in organisations side-by-side. This has led to changes in the demands of workplaces, with each generation having its own priorities.

In a piece by Jean-Dominique Senard of Groupe Renault, this melting pot of age groups is highlighted as a benefit. But how do businesses make the most of the age diversity boom? Senard believes that the key is focusing on a shared goal: “No one, neither young nor old, can be satisfied with a lifetime working if the sole objectives are productivity and profit.

“Indeed, focusing on a common direction can reduce perceptions of “us” vs. “them,” and create or reinforce unity. It is the responsibility of the company, then, to make everyone, both older and younger people, work toward the same meaningful purpose.” Read more

“No one can be satisfied with a lifetime working if the sole objectives are productivity and profit.”
Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of the board of directors, Groupe Renault Tweet this

The gender gap

Discussions around gender equality in the workplace have featured heavily at Davos, with many concerned about the lack of general progress in supporting women at work, especially in leadership roles.

“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children” – that’s the finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which shows that gender equality will not be achieved for almost 100 years.

The research, now in its 14th year, benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity across economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. In a new addition for 2020, the report also predicts age gaps in the professions of the future.

Iceland is currently top of the list for the countries having achieved the smallest equality gap (for the 11th year running), while Albania, Mexico and Spain are amongst the most improved. Overall, Western Europe has made the most progress on gender parity.

Read more

To see more of the workplace trends discussed at Davos 2020, visit weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2020.

Anette Timmer EMEA Marketing Director Worplace and SSHL, Tarkett Full bio and articles

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