Future of work explored at Techtalk

12 May, 2020

The first international virtual Techtalk event “The Future of work: How to remain efficient at work during disasters” took place on 16 April via Zoom, with 162 participants from 15 countries.

Four speakers formed the panel - AUT’s Lena Waizenegger, Matthew Jackson (Founder @ On The Side & EHF Fellow), Mohammad Reza Beik Zadeh (Training Consultant @ Axiata Malaysia) and David Inggs (CEO and Co-Founder @ Rocos).

“The future of work is here”, said Matthew, as he presented techniques on thriving during COVID-19. Mohammad emphasised the need for a smart e-learning system during and post COVID-19 and David introduced several robots and the role they play in the fight against the virus. Lena presented the latest findings of the research project she is currently conducting in collaboration with Taino Bendz (PhoneFreeDay), Brad McKenna (University of East Anglia) and Wenjie Cai (University of Greenwich).

Lena and her colleagues explored the use of technology for work and leisure activities and the role it plays in maintaining work-leisure boundaries. Interviewing 28 people from around the world with diverse professional, cultural and private backgrounds, whose working situation changed from office to home due to social distancing requirements, they found:

  • Complete blurring of work-life boundaries including working longer hours, family and work-life overlapping, distractions and interruptions in digital channels, and intrusion of privacy.
  • Interactions through virtual channels brought about the shift of norms towards extended availability and responsiveness, overstimulation in the virtual environment, and a perceived lack of transparency.
  • People feel socially isolated. However, social relationships are an important determinant of subjective well-being.
  • (Social) media usage saw an uptick, with people increasing consumption to mitigate boredom as did the consumption of negative COVID-19 news. Research shows that with increased usage both activities have a negative effect on wellbeing.

But there were also a number of benefits ranging from accelerated digitalisation, increased efficiency due to technology, time/cost saving from not commuting, improved communication/interactions and blurring of organisational heirarchies.

The team’s key messages were to be patient with yourself while learning how to navigate working from home – both in understanding the unusual environment of a pandemic and in learning how best to use technology to our advantage.

To support this they came up with some working from home hacks:

  • Stay focused – with the Pomodoro technique
  • Take breaks between meetings – get up and stretch
  • Overcommunicate and be explicit – you can mitigate the lack of transparency
  • Exercise: active body – active mind
  • Be social – meet for virtual coffee breaks
  • Stay in control over your phone – don’t let your phone control you
  • Schedule your social media times
  • Work as a team – swap parenting times

Useful links:

  • Website search