The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the world of work. As nations continue to grapple with the short-term impacts of the economic slowdown, many have yet to grasp the imprint that the crisis may have left on the future of labour markets.
Lockdowns have sped up existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, upending forecasts of what tomorrow’s economy will look like. In the years ahead, it is estimated that 25 per cent more workers will potentially need to switch occupations than previously thought.
With such dramatic change come challenges, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable. Last year’s economic crash left more than 114 million people without jobs, but the United Nations (UN) estimates that a staggering 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy risk losing their livelihoods.
As the pandemic-induced inequality gap keeps widening, this underlines the importance for countries to build back better as they emerge from the worst recession facing the world since the great depression.
If governments are to create a fairer future, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 8, focused on achieving decent work and economic growth, will need to be front and centre of the global economic recovery. The question is, what’s the role of businesses in realising this vision?
This year’s Ricoh Eco Action Day Forum will seek answers to this question. Themed ‘The Future of Work’, the event will explore how companies can help policymakers make economic growth sustainable and inclusive, and offer productive employment and decent work for all.
Taking place on 26 August, the event will bring together business leaders, sustainability experts and government representatives to discuss the business models that firms can adopt to build better and safer workplaces while driving sustainability outcomes.
The gathering, which is co-organised by Japanese multinational digital services company Ricoh and Eco-Business, also ties in with Singapore’s wider push towards sustainability as the new engine for jobs and growth, encouraging more entrepreneurs, banks and industry to transition towards greener ways of doing business.
Coming on the heels of the recently unveiled Singapore Green Plan 2030, which charts a new course for Singapore’s sustainability agenda, the event will delve into the ways firms can create green jobs, buildings, and infrastructure to help transform how people live and work in support of the city-state’s sustainability commitments.
It is important for business, government and sustainability experts to come together and discuss how we can achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery post-Covid, and create decent, inclusive and sustainable work for all.
Ben Chong, managing director, Ricoh Singapore
“The pandemic has disproportionately impacted those with limited digital access, lower skills and education, and who are of lower income. As countries enforced lockdowns and shuttered economies, these communities have been less able to continue studying and working from home, thus widening the social and economic inequality gaps,” said Ben Chong, managing director at Ricoh Singapore.
“As such, it is important for business, government and sustainability experts to come together and discuss how we can achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery post-Covid, and create decent, inclusive and sustainable work for all,” he said.
“While it takes collaborative efforts to overcome inequity, the onus is on companies to ensure safe and fair work conditions for their employees,” he continued. Besides putting measures in place to curb the spread of the virus, this means using technology to remove barriers and ensure fair treatment and equal access to opportunities for everyone, he added.
Covid-19 has highlighted how dependent the global economy has become on digital technology. As the world emerges from the crisis, the shift in work patterns is likely to keep driving the surge in demand for digital services, said Chong.
“As the world recovers from the pandemic, we are slowly but surely returning to the office. However, the next generation of workers will require more flexibility in terms of working hours and ways of working,” he observed.
“As a digital services company, we are empowering businesses and their employees to work better and smarter with secure, innovative digital office tools and technologies so they can work seamlessly wherever they are,” he said.
The Ricoh Eco Action Day Forum is one of Singapore’s key sustainability gatherings. It is part of Ricoh’s larger Eco Action Day Campaign, which encourages individuals and organisations in Singapore to embrace a greener future.
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