This Working Futures™ Discussion Paper examines the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on work and employment. It is authored by Professor Marcus Bowles, founder and chair of The Institute for Working Futures. The paper is the first part in a series that meshes longer term strategic foresighting and workforce forecasts with COVID-19 events to better inform policy and decision makers.

The paper examines how the immense shift in how, when, and where we work caused by pandemic in the first 3 months are far from unknown or unexpected.  The reality is COVID-19 brought the future early. It achieved in three months what research into future work predicted would occur incrementally over five years to 2025.

The paper examines how many larger employers have used the lockdown to hit pause, restructure their workforces ready for the anticipated future beyond CIOVID-19, and will hit the re-boot button in the fourth quarter of 2020 ready for a 2021 economic up-tick.  Underpinning all these insights is the belief restructured companies and processes will result in a permanent loss of certain job types from the Australian and New Zealand economies.

The paper provides insights based on real examples the good, the bad and the downright ugly examples of how organisations and the education sector have responded to COVID-19.  It also suggests ways we can position to ensure the economic recovery raises the employability and early return to the workforce for workers displaced during the pandemic.