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Highlights 1: The future of work – The key topics driving conversation

By Danny Hicks, Blue Door Programmes

In this week’s episode of the Blue Door Podcast we revisited the three episodes that discussed O2’s recent research on the future of work – and heard highlights from our experts’ views about the people, places and technology that will make up the dynamic workforce of the future.

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We began with a review of Episode 17, where we considered places.  How are organisations rethinking about where people are able to be their best?

Chris Early, Estate and Development Manager for Telefónica UK, has been working on our own ‘return to office planning’.

“We’re in a slightly different situation to many organisations because we’ve been working in a hybrid way for about a decade already. However, we do expect to see less use of offices overall, in all of the scenarios that we’ve modelled.

“The results of the recent O2 business survey have also been factored into our thinking, and we have taken the decision to tread carefully, and refrain from making large scale physical changes until we see the patterns of use as more people start to come back in.”


In Episode 18, we looked at People. How will organisations engage, empower and retain their most valuable asset.

Ant Morse, Head of Digital Solutions at O2 Business, discussed what he thought was the single biggest challenge facing HR teams right now:

“I think there’s a consistent concern about how we actually manage people moving forward. We’re now in a position where we’ve acknowledged and accepted that the changes we have witnessed are not a temporary situation. In fact, this is historic evolution, perhaps our own digital revolution. 

“It was happening anyway, but COVID has accelerated it, and most businesses are planning for a hybrid model for a return to work. The challenge ahead is defining how to manage virtual versus physical, everything from coaching to one to ones, to challenging conversations, and everything in between.”


Then in Episode 19, we considered technology. How does it support the employee experience in the workplace of the future?

We welcomed back Dave Cornwell, Head of Solutions at O2, talked about how traditional organisations might embrace the opportunities presented by AI in the future.

“I think this is an example of where our consumer lives will probably pave the way for what happens in our professional lives. If you think back 20 or 30 years ago, it would’ve been the other way around. Your organisation would have adopted technology far sooner than you would have outside of work. And that’s because of the historic cost and complexity of adopting new technology. 

“But if you think about AI today, and if you just take take stock of where AI is influencing our life already, it’s actually all around us. We have virtual assistants like Google Home, Alexa and Siri in our homes. So it’s being embraced in our personal lives before becoming embedded in our professional lives.”


Three core areas to enable a dynamic workforce:

  • People: Freedom, flexibility and fulfilment: Re-imaging work in the age of the dynamic workforce
  • Places: Talent, tools and space: New workplace strategies for a dynamic working world
  • Technology: AI, automation and collaboration: Why tomorrow’s talent is human + digital

Our market research on The Future of Work:

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