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In a world of global connection and growing pressures, how should work change?

Virtual meeting

Globalisation, digitalisation, new technologies and the Covid-19 pandemic have moved more and more people into hybrid and fully remote work (teleworking), but how should government policies and legal frameworks adapt to this new reality? How can the well-being of people at work be maintained when the lines between private life and work are increasingly blurred?

These questions were at the centre of a parliamentary hearing on the future of work, held yesterday by the PACE Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which brought together parliamentarians, policymakers and experts to discuss options for organising work better.

Richard Samans of the International Labour Organization (ILO) told parliamentarians that in the complex jungle of increasingly stressful work situations and growing inequality, the focus should be on pursuing a human-centred approach. Society should be investing in people skills, framework institutions and policies that promote decent work for all, he said.

Stijn Broecke from the OECD underlined that while the impact of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) was not yet fully understood, AI users should comply with existing regulations that protect essential rights in the workplace.

Abigail Marks, Professor of the Future of Work at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, suggested that the rigid “eight-hours-a-day” and “five-days-a-week” model of work now belonged to the past, and should be done away with in order to encourage more flexible and less stressful working.

The findings of the hearing will feed into a report currently being prepared by Selin Sayek Böke (Turkey, SOC) on The future of work is here: revisiting labour rights.