New World Same Humans #59 – Audio Version

How the remote work revolution will transform cities, education, innovation, and nation states.

  
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As lockdown eases here in the UK, a transition is on the horizon. We’re about to find out what the new normal looks like when it comes to work.

The picture is still unclear. Last week the prime minister urged UK citizens to get back to the office, saying they’d had enough ‘days off’ during lockdown. Meanwhile one of the country’s largest financial institutions, Nationwide, told its 13,000 employees that they’re permanently free to ‘work from anywhere’.

Two starkly different visions, then, of work in the 2020s. The same tension will no doubt afflict industrialised nations around the world.

Many employers, though, are converging on a settlement: a mixed model that will see staff in the office occasionally, and free to work anywhere for the rest of the time. That sounds a balanced compromise; it’s also a revolution. One that will have far-reaching effects on the way we live, how we do innovation, and the nature of citizenship.

So this week, notes on the transition towards remote work. I’ve examined the shift across four key dimensions:

  • Cities

  • Education

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Citizens and states

For each dimension, I’ve devised a short scenario built on a number of key predictions. In some future instalment of NWSH – I’m thinking 2025 at the earliest – I’ll revisit the claims I make this week. Each scenario features one tweet, chosen because it is a powerful illustration of one of the seeds, already growing in 2021, of my imagined future.

A final note: these scenarios are undeniably focused on rich, industrialised nations where office work is predominant and many can work from home. The World Bank estimates that in low income countries only one in every 26 jobs can be done remotely. Those countries, clearly, will travel different paths, and I hope to write about that in a later instalment.

Enough preamble; hit play!

If you prefer to read this week’s instalment, go here for the text version of New World Same Humans #59.


Links in this week’s instalment

🏙️ Cities

1. See these automated stores from Swedish retail brand Lifvs.

2. Artists, writers, and actors put unused commercial and retail space to new and innovative use.

3. The mayor of Miami used used Twitter banter to sell his city as an alternative to Silicon Valley during the pandemic.

4. The later 2020s sees a new wave of charismatic founders establish charter cities: independent city states intended to attract itinerant knowledge workers and reimagine government for the 21st-century.

5.

🎓 Education

1. Superstar academics look to break away and monetise their huge audiences, leveraging tools such this new creator platform for academics.

2.

💡 Creativity and Innovation

1. A now canonical study by the MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory found that communication is what sets the best teams apart.

2.

🧑‍💻 Citizens and States

  1. At the intersection of much of the change discussed here is a single, powerful phenomenon. That is, the emergence of the Sovereign Individual.

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David Mattin is the founder of the Strategy and Futures Research Unit. He sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumption.