This week, AlphaSense sat down with Davey Jose, Disruptive Technologies analyst at HSBC Global Research, to discuss the future of work. During the hour-long call, Jose spoke about our path to an increasingly remote-based workforce, the winners and losers in a remote-first world, and the possible implications on cities, technology, and the workforce.
For years, HSBC analysts have spoken about “unbundling the city.” As technology evolves, it enables the potential for people to access work (and commerce, entertainment, healthcare, services, etc.) independent of their physical location, therefore unbundling the city. This trend was accelerated by COVID-19.
Decentralizing technology doesn’t merely refer to Zoom meetings and webinars, though. Innovation across Virtual Reality, AI-powered transport, telemedicine, and touchless tech will change the way we work and access various services.
Source: HSBC - Unbundling the city - decentralized technology and themes
Who gains and who loses?
HSBC breaks down workers into three categories: knowledge workers, service workers, and physical economy workers:
- Knowledge workers use computers to access their work and are most likely to benefit from a decentralized workplace.
- Service workers may use a computer, but have to service customers face-to-face; these workers are likely to experience less benefit from decentralized work.
- Physical workers are least likely to benefit from shifts in work, or may be negatively impacted (transportation, material moving, production, etc.)
Source: BLS; “Work is more likely to work from home? US (%)
Workers who already make higher salaries and have a Bachelor’s degree or higher are likely to experience gains from WFH/decentralized work. In fact, the weekly income for workers with a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) is twice that of workers with some college (or lower) in the United States.
Decentralized work: possible implications
Since 2003, the number of hours worked per day has risen in the United States, this is the backdrop coming into the decentralized age.
Source: BLS; Average number of hours worked (US #)
As decentralized technologies further unbundle the city, there will be more questions raised about things like real estate for commercial spaces and job multiplier effect like in supporting services. If there are fewer workers in cities, might fewer workers be required to support these people? Will we need to maintain the current number of employees at food places? How about in public transport?
Decentralized technologies could also impact the way we spend our money. Today household expenditure and home costs is one of the largest spends, especially in the big cities. Might decentralizing technology impact the way this evolves? As more knowledge workers move away from the office and find cheaper housing, can they see an increase in disposable income and leisure time?
Source: BLS, 2016: Average Leisure Time in the United States (# Hours)
Today, 51% of the world is online, and the pace of increase in global internet users has been slowing down over the last decade. With new COVID implications and the evolution of work, HSBC analysts predict that new technology, like low-orbit satellites, will offer more options to emerging markets.
Source: ITU - Internet growth over time (% increase in internet users globally)
Jose also predicts that there will be a growth of data and connectivity and that there will be a huge acceleration of global energy consumption.
To hear the rest of Davey Jose’s presentation, including his views on virtual reality, cyber-attacks, and evolving technology, explore AlphaSense’s Expert Briefing Series.