The Future Of Work In A Socially Distanced World

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in many of the norms of our lives, including the ways we work. To adjust to these changes, employees have developed new skills and employers have had to rethink their strategies for recruiting and retaining employees.

To discuss what these changes look like in Asia, Goal 17 Partners hosted “The Future of Work in a Socially Distanced World” with Vijay Deol, President & Representative Director, Japan, en World Group; Kae Ishikawa, UN Women Japan; and Annamarie Sasagawa, Director of Corporate Culture (Global), Kao Corporation, moderated by Takuji Okubo, The Economist Corporate Network, Japan & South Korea.  

The conversation began with the panelists talking about the skills they believe are necessary for the future. Vijay Deol shared that communication has become more difficult now that people are not in the office together and casual interactions with each other are not available. Now people need to be more proactive in how they share information.

Annamarie Sasagawa spoke about how going virtual has helped accelerate oversees communication. Since distance no longer matters, everyone is equally close to each other and able to communicate just as often. 

Each of the speakers talked about how working remotely has impacted company culture. They shared some ideas that their organizations have used to help create team interactions including virtual coffee chats, happy hours, and even a talent show. 

Kae Ishikawa said that rather than focusing on the number of hours people spend sitting in the office, people are more focused on the work that is produced. She said that this shift might help change the way the roles of men and women are typically viewed.

Now that schedules are more flexible, both men and women are able to see more clearly how they may be able to balance home-life and work-life. This makes it easier for women to take on higher roles at work. However, she noted the imbalance of women’s unpaid labor in taking care of children and the elderly, as well as the need to support women who are still working out of the home in jobs such as retail and factory work. 

Overall, the panelists each had a positive outlook for what the future of work will bring. There is a shared optimism Japan will not let this crisis go to waste. While the difficulties of the coronavirus outbreak made visible some of the problems in the way we work, it also created a chance to make a change.