Issue #80
#80 - The Future Of Work Is Darn Toasty β˜€οΈπŸž
August 25, 2023

Hi folks -- Usman and I both are both in Singapore right now -- and we want to meet up with you!

We're carving out a night next week for our first-ever TalentStories hangout in Singapore. If you're here, up for bite or a drink, and -- natch -- some talent conversation, we'd love to meet you. Hit reply, or ping us on LinkedIn, and we'll send over the details.

On to today's issue:

β€œWe can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
– Dolly Parton

This newsletter is about change. The sweeping change happening at work, and how we adapt to it as individuals, leaders, and organizations.

Let's give these mega-shifts some names, shall we?

Demography: the crashing birth rates in the Western world and much of Asia, and the talent shortage that is helping to cause. As well as the reality of five, distinct generations all operating in the workforce at the same time, with differences in worldview -- and workview -- between younger and older generations.

Technology: AI, yes, but more broadly, the exponential digitization of businesses, of work, and of the people and talent doing the work.

The Great [Insert Preferred Dramatic Noun]: the wholesale questioning of work being carried out in real-time by employees all over the world: "Why do I work? What role should work play in my life? Where should I work from? Do I need to tether myself to one job at a time? What will I get at the end of holding different jobs for the next 4-5 decades?" You know, small, trivial questions. πŸ™ƒ

Decentralization: the shift in power from employers to employees as a consequence of the acute talent shortage, the Covid-induced shift to remote work, and the combination of flexibility and productivity we experienced once we made that shift.

The "Workaround": More and more people are "opting out" of traditional, full-time work, and opting in to part-time work, freelancing, side hustles, gig work, and solopreneurship. This fractionalization of jobs and careers is a result of the great questioning, above, as well as the failure of organizations to reimagine work alongside their employees, and offer up better -- more dignified and humane -- jobs. And in effect, it exacerbates the talent shortage.

The other change that's already upon us, and impacting work just as profoundly, is climate change. Nearly everyone reading this -- in the Americas, Europe, Asia or Africa -- experienced searing hot temperatures this summer, and/or the effects of extreme weather: flooding, bad air, massive storms.

And because the effects of climate change are so complex and multi-dimensional, its impact on work, and our responses to it, will be just as diverse. It is already clear: climate change will impact all workers, all over the world; wealthy countries, as well as developing nations; knowledge workers, as well as those in agriculture, construction and manufacturing; young workers, as well as old. And it will impact hundreds of millions of existing jobs, just as it will create whole new categories of work, and demand for new skills.

So today, we put the climate on our agenda, and we start to explore. Our 3 Stories help us appreciate the depth and complexity of what's going on: how big is the impact on work? And how are organizations and governments starting to respond?

🎯 Story #1 - First, let's get our heads around the scale and scope of things. How many jobs will be impacted, and which parts of the world will most feel the effect of climate change on work? But also, what opportunities will climate change create? A fantastic report offers up tons of insight. 🧐

🎯 Story #2 - "What do you call a German 'Siesta'?", asks our second Story. It's a cheeky headline, but also an excuse to dig into the way some long-held cultural mores about work are beginning to shift in response to a rapidly warming planet. Here in Story # 2, we learn that the oft-mocked "siesta" (the Spanish tradition of closing up shop when it gets too hot out) is gaining steam in other -- once cooler -- parts of the world. πŸ₯΅

🎯 Story #3 - If higher temperatures -- and longer durations of heat -- are causing deep-seated cultural norms to shift, then it's no surprise that governments and companies are also starting to adapt. We take a look at what some of them are doing to soften the blow of extreme weather on indoor and outdoor workers alike. πŸ™Œ

Thanks for reading, and exploring with us -- and have a fantastic week!

Aki + Usman




#ClimateChange@Work #GeographyIsDestiny #GreenCollarJobs

This Story comes from a great report by Deloitte, which was full of eye-popping estimates highlighting the scale of the climate's impact on work. Including the stat above, which estimates that 800 million jobs -- 25% of all jobs -- are vulnerable to a more extreme climate.

Just as striking? This map highlighting the vulnerability of jobs to climate change in Asia (60% of the world's population) and Africa:

But the report also does a great job of laying out the opportunities that a changing climate presents. For instance, the 43 trillion dollars of value that the world economy stands to gain by embracing "green collar jobs":

The authors explain that:

With coordinated and rapid decarbonization and the right policies in place in the coming decade, all regions globally can have higher economic growth and more jobs, compared to an unassisted transition. More than 300 million additional jobs globally can be created by 2050 by seizing the decarbonization opportunity and making the transition work.

Armed now with a sense of the impact and the opportunity that climate change will have on work, our next two Stories help us understand how institutions are starting to respond: πŸ‘‡



#ClimateChange@Work #ShiftingNorms #Vocab

When I was 12, I got to spend a summer with friends in Spain who had moved there from New York, where I grew up. I remember the heat, and learning what a "siesta" was: how everything in town shut down for a few hours because of the swelter, right in the middle of the day.

For a New Yorker -- even a suburban Long Islander -- the shuttered homes, the empty stores and restaurants, the deserted streets, and yes, the fully-sanctioned mid-day nap, were all a bit jarring. 😳

But I also remember the way things then "shifted up" as a result: how the town suddenly came back to life in the late afternoon, how we ate dinner at 9pm, and how late everything and everyone finally shut down.

This article from the NY Times πŸ‘†πŸ» is about the way many prominent German institutions -- often critics of the Mediterranean work ethic -- are now warming to the idea of the siesta, because of the constant heat. And as our next read lays out, it's not just extreme temperatures, but the duration of those temperatures, that has them reconsidering its merits:

As the planet warms, people are getting β€œstuck” in persistent weather patterns for longer durations, says John Abraham, a professor of thermal science. β€œWhat used to be a 1-to-2-day heat wave is now 3-to-5 days. People who can handle a day or two of excess heat will have many more problems with longer durations.

Trends like this explain why the German press, as well as trade unions, doctors, and politicians are starting to voice support for a mid-day break to shake the heat. Per Karl Lauterbach, none other than Germany's Minister of Health: "Siesta during the heat is certainly not a bad suggestion." 🀯



#ClimateChange@Work #RemoteWork #ShiftingWorkShifts

With deep-seated norms shifting at the level of culture and politics -- neither of which we'd deem "quick to change" -- is it any wonder that companies are also adapting in order to provide for employees?

Mansoor Soomro, a professor of sustainability, breaks down the rationale:

Heat-related discomfort adversely affects job performance and productivity. Companies want to avoid the fallout of heat-related health conditions. And for employees, they suffer being sick, losing work days and pay and their family life can be affected. For employers, they suffer the consequences of medical treatment, lost productivity, and legal disputes.

Referring in the quote above ⬆️ to the knowledge workers that work indoors, Professor Samroo also explains that one of the upsides of remote work is the positive effect it has on the climate, employees, and productivity.

But if we range over to the Middle East, we learn that Qatar, subject to unbearable heat in the Persian Gulf -- and a reputation for badly exploiting migrant workers -- has already enacted legislation to protect outdoor workers from the sun. Without using the term "siesta", the law essentially bans outdoor work between 10am and 3:30pm, from June through September. While mandating that employers also assess and mitigate heat risk, and provide facilities to cool off their teams.

Meantime, across both categories -- outdoor and indoor employees -- we're seeing more and more workers "shifting their schedules to begin earlier and end before temperatures peak midday". A "work shift shift" that we're bound to see more of from here on out. πŸ•“

Keep cool ❄️ -- and thanks for reading.

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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