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Is this the future of work?

Principal Advisor, Productivity Commission
14 April 2020

Like us, most of you will be at home, keeping to your bubbles, isolating from others and maybe working remotely. We hope you have loved ones close and are safe and warm.

Having a bit more spare time than usual on your hands, you might be wondering what happened to the Commission’s final report for the Technological change and the future of work inquiry. We delivered our final report to Ministers on 31 March, as promised. And even though he has a whole lot on his plate at the moment, the Minister of Finance gave us the go-ahead to publish the final report today.

We’d like to thank everyone who submitted to the inquiry, commented on our blog posts, met with us, took part in our focus groups, or otherwise lent their perspectives, experience and insights to our work. One of the strengths of the Commission’s model is the explicit recognition that much wisdom exists out in the community, and we try our best to tap into that knowledge. We greatly appreciated all your thoughts and comments, and they made us rethink some conclusions and positions we took in the draft reports.

One final thought: in the first draft report, we noted that many factors affect firms’ decisions whether to adopt technology. One of these factors is social norms and preferences. If these norms and preferences change, that may make firms more inclined to invest in technology. Some people think we may currently be in such a moment, where the need to isolate from COVID-19 is changing consumer preferences about online ordering and changing business views about the benefits of remote working and the need for the underpinning digital infrastructure. Who knows – maybe we will start to see the levels of investment, innovation and technological change that will make a difference to New Zealand’s future productivity?


Image: Productivity Commission Zoom meeting

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