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Covid and job relocation

Christopher Lake was a panel member in the discussion held at the annual conference of the Chartered Association of Business Schools on the subject of Recruitment strategies:finding and landing talent during a pandemic.  The discussion was led by the Association's Chair, Professor Robert MacIntosh, Head of the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University.  In a lively exchange, Christopher's contribution focused on whether the pandemic has changed people’s attitudes to relocating for a job within the UK and/or internationally.  His prepared remarks are attached.  

The Future of Work

Christopher Lake and Adam Gold wrote in July about the systemic risks to the UK economy posed by the rapid move to homeworking since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Empty city centres, boarded-up offices, and a crash in the commercial property market were the red lights flashing in our future. But if the debate about our cities did not begin with events in Wuhan, the same is true of the debate about the future of work.  The idea that artificial intelligence might do to the economic security of wite-collar workers what new technology and cheap overseas labour have done to the economic security of their blue-collar counterparts has been doing the rounds for a while.  The question is one of the collective choices we are willing to make, the extent to which we want to apply the brakes to the market or to re-configure the way we regulate it, for instance through accepting that jobs (as we have understood them up until now) will increasingly become scarce goods in our society and that the link between jobs, self-respect, and economic security will need be broken once and for all if, as a society, we are to get through this next industrial revolution in one piece. 

Covid-19, compliance, and the Blitz spirit

In her televised address to the nation back in April, Her Majesty the Queen invoked the spirit of the Blitz.  In years to come, she hoped, the people of Britain would take pride in their response to the pandemic.  The “attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling” – connecting as they do generations of Britons past and present – would see us through. 

Four months on, what we see is a mixture of admirable and not so admirable behaviour.  Have the authorities done all they could to harness the national spirit the Queen invoked or have they contributed to the very anxiety they should be in the business of remedying?