The House of Lords have called on the Government to instate a hybrid strategy which supports all people post-pandemic, including those in the workplace.
In the report ‘Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World’, the House of Lords have urged the Government to formulate a new hybrid strategy which will cater to all following the pandemic.
Most notably, the report analyses the increased use of technology and how the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation, changing working lives forever.
The research looks at various elements of society and how they have been altered by the pace of digital acceleration during the pandemic.
In the realm of work, the Committee found that there was already a hybrid approach to work which was forming prior to the pandemic.
However, it also forecast that the future of work will be varied across all sectors – with some employees being able to work completely remotely, some being able to split time between work and home and others having to work entirely from their workplace.
The research also highlighted the sectors which will have a complete overhaul due to the pandemic. Citing data, it showed that 180,000 people lost their jobs within retail over the last year. As such, the findings stated that some of the workforce will get targeted and redeployed and others will have their roles completely replaced by automation.
It further suggested job losses could have a larger impact on particular communities. For example, of the 1.5 million people in England in jobs most vulnerable to automation, 70 per cent are women and 99 per cent do not have higher education degrees.
As such, the report calls for the need for greater investment in skills and training. A key suggestion made was that the Government should explore how personal learning accounts could future-proof roles most at risk. This would provide workers with an annual training allowance which they could spend on different courses. In particular, it was recommended that this should first be given to furloughed workers who have not been in work for over a year.
Furthermore to aid young people and their networking, the Committee advised that employers should provide online opportunities for employees to connect and attempt to facilitate in-person meet ups when possible.
In response to the ‘always-on’ culture arising from remote working and digital surveillance, the report called for new legislation which would strengthen employee rights in both these areas. This could include the right to disconnect and legislation allowing employees to access data linked to their performance.
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, Chair of the COVID-19 Committee said:
The Government’s current digital strategy is unfit for purpose to operate in our new hybrid post-pandemic society and it must adopt a new, truly hybrid strategy. The development of this new strategy must be led centrally from the Cabinet Office, alongside the recognition that this issue goes beyond being considered from a purely ‘digital’ perspective and must be more fundamental than is currently being envisaged.
The future was always going to be hybrid – an increasingly blurred mix of online and offline aspects of life. Due to the pandemic, that future is here now and as a result the need for Government action is greater than ever to ensure a hybrid future fit for and beneficial to all.
The full report can be found here.