In a series of key insights from Allianz’s chief economist Ludovic Subran, Monocle presents stories that shed light on everything from the future of the workplace to global debt and why even digital businesses should remember the human touch.
Allianz is the world’s largest insurer and asset manager and we asked its chief economist, Ludovic Subran, for some global insights on understanding the pitfalls and benefits of the home office.
How has the world of work changed?
It certainly awoke the conservative CEOs and leaders out there who are completely against any type of home office; those who thought that people were worth the square metres they occupied in their open spaces in the middle of an urban, densely populated area. It’s shown even the least convinced people that people actually can work from home and be quite productive. It’s a type of freedom that I think the bigger companies were reluctant to give to some of their employees.
So we’ll all work from home in future?
The all-home office strategy is dangerous. The question that workers should ask is whether there is a higher risk of automation, robotisation, outsourcing of those tasks, especially the lower value-added ones that happen to be done from home? That’s the caveat that I see to the home office “kumbaya moment” we are living in.
How are you thinking about it?
I would like to make sure that people see the benefit of working together and that there are some productivity costs, misunderstandings, misalignments; planning creatively is very hard. At Allianz, for example, we are talking about new work models; workers should demand that their company thinks holistically about what it really means. The other risk is mobility; are you considered for promotion as much when you don’t see the ethos of your working environment?
So there are benefits to being together in an office too?
This is about trying to make sure that learning opportunities, career opportunities and group creativity can still happen. It’s easy to move a soloist but much harder to move the orchestra. Now that everybody’s playing the instruments from wherever they are, I don’t think it is that easy to get everybody in tune and to play a symphony.
For more insights, listen to the full half-hour interview here.