Different countries, regions, and industries around the world are paving the way for a transformation into digital working styles. Meanwhile, global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have also encouraged people to explore sustainable lifestyles and working styles. The youth are a powerful force in advancing the development of the digital era and play a vital role in responding to global challenges. In view of this, the youth’s exploration of sustainable working styles is a highly relevant issue.
On September 10, 2021, the Sub-session on Youth Dialogue at the 5th Taihe Civilizations Forum was held online. Youth representatives from the academic and business sectors discussed the impact of the pandemic, climate change, and the digital era on future working styles.
The digital era is here, and digital working styles are the future.
Michael Chen, Founder of HIPA, said that the object of work requires a carrier, which used to be something tangible, but now it is information. Technology enables a digital workplace, which allows us to focus on the most important tasks and to reflect on and verify our ideas. While digital technology has greatly increased work efficiency, it also brings several challenges. A prominent one is that people nowadays are unable to fully gain a sense of satisfaction from work as their predecessors did. Compared with online interactions, people find real-world experiences more meaningful and favorable.
Bing Han, Partner of Incapital, said that at the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, China’s digital transformation has been on the fast track, rapidly shifting from offline to online, and from the computers to the cloud. Two major aspects characterize the future working style: first is the increased use and application of AI, machine learning, and robotics, and the automation of more repetitive and simple tasks; second is the evolution of the distribution of labor, and the growing proportion of remote working, freelance, and temporary jobs.
The pandemic and climate change have accelerated the transformation and development of working styles.
Lucy Tong, International Academic Outreach Project Manager of Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, mentioned that as various countries implement their low-carbon transition plans, more resources will also be invested in climate change-related fields, which will create more jobs and business opportunities. In the future, corporate social responsibility will become even more pronounced. The future of work should be more inclusive and attuned with the development stages of different countries and regions.
Marilyn Waite, the author of Sustainability at Work, said that climate change has huge impacts on the future of work. Opportunities created by climate issues will expand to all the regions, industries, and organizations. Due to internal demand and external supervision, enterprises will place greater value on Environment, Society and Governance (ESG) indexes, and devote more attention to the challenges and opportunities that come with climate change. Therefore, both employees and decision-makers of enterprises and organizations need to learn more about climate change in the future. Companies, organizations and individuals should embrace remote working, reduce large-scale on-site meetings, and create diverse ways for people to participate. Countermeasures against the COVID-19 pandemic have encouraged digital and flexible working, and reduced the time spent on commuting, which significantly contributes to addressing climate change problems.
Perspectives on the Future of Work
Louis Zheng, Co-Founder of FuturistCircle, noted that the ability to learn and use digital communication and coordination tools flexibly will be an essential skill, and this means that everybody is empowered to choose how they work. In this case, more people can work digitally while being mobile at the same time, without being confined to one place. This will also expand business opportunities. For example, hotels, café shops, communities, and even modes of transportation will offer a more comfortable environment for people to work, and new range of products would be available for emerging digital nomads. Some may even transform workplaces to make them feel like home or designate certain areas for working at home. Moreover, digital work allows people to go beyond their work arrangements to build their own business model, which enables them to manage both their passive and active incomes.
Megan Zheng, who is among the slash youth, said that remote and digital work presents three challenges to individuals. The first is the need for greater self-control. Otherwise, businesses may face decreased efficiency. The second is communication problems due to different locations, time zones, and languages will persist even with the help of digital applications. The third is that people will have limited face-to-face communication.
Dr. Kaddour Chelabi, Co-Founder of Sumen Education, as well as the Moderator of the Sub-session on Youth Dialogue, concluded that each moment is a chance to act either for or against humanity. Each one of us should live more sustainably by starting with little things, for example, using less plastic.
According to Deloitte, millennials account for 57% of the total labor force in the Asia-Pacific region. As the world goes through drastic changes and another technological revolution, the youth should keep sustainable development in mind, embrace the digital era, and promote innovation in different fields. The youth in China and the rest of the world should join hands and contribute their time and energy to building a community with a shared future.
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