More back-to-office orders, AI ‘agents’ and the future of WeWork

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This is the published edition of Forbes’ Future of Work newsletter, which provides the latest news for chief human resources officers and other talent managers on disruptive technologies, managing the workforce and trends in the remote work debate. Click here to have it delivered to your inbox every Friday!

iIt’s the first week after Labor Day, and that can only mean one thing for office workers and HR leaders: another round of back-to-the-office orders. In an annual post-Covid rite of passage, more companies are pushing people to return to the office more often—from Meta’s new “personal focus” to office expectations, according to media reports, from drugmaker Merck—now that kids are back in school and the economy gives bosses more leverage.

Whether you’re struggling with the high cost of office-to-office travel, worried about the rising number of Covid cases, drowning in school chaos or wishing you were still at the beach, it’s back-to-the-grind week. To help, contributor Jack Kelly has some suggestions for managing the back-to-work routine. If your company has decided to go offsite rather than mandate, here’s how to make the experience worthwhile. And for those still strategizing how to get more people back to the site, remember the decision shouldn’t be based on productivity alone. Hopefully it’ll be a good weekend, a week later when it’s due.

Jenna McGregor, Senior Editor, Leadership Strategy & Careers | @jenamcgregor

Human capital

On Thursday, unions representing 150,000 workers at General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellartis warned that a possible strike could escalate as an agreement between the automakers and workers on hours worked, benefits received and a requested 46% is still out of reach. UAW President Sean Fein said the union is withholding support for President Joe Biden for the 2024 presidential election until he addresses concerns about protecting workers in the transition to electric vehicles.

Contributor Paul Klein writes that companies need to be more prepared for climate disasters and their impact on employees, emergency operations, recovery efforts and sustainability, citing examples of Walmart and Verizon’s prepared responses to recent hurricanes.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.8%, the August jobs numbers released last Friday showed, but the US still added 187,000 jobs, beating economists’ expectations of a 170,000 figure. Still, the layoffs continue, with major companies laying off more than 65,000 workers this summer. Recently, Roku cut 10% of its workforce, ForbesBrian Buschard reported – the company’s stock rose 10% after that – and Barstool Sports cut 25% of its workforce.

Artificial Intelligence

While OpenAI and competitors like Anthropic and Google are fighting to create an AI foundation model like GPT-4, entrepreneurs Kanjun Qiu and Josh Albrecht are taking a different approach with Imbue, who are creating AI “agents”. This type of computer system can simulate human decision making to complete complex tasks, ForbesAlex Konrad and Kenrick Cai report, acting like virtual research assistants who can crunch analyses, recommend and even set up follow-on experiments.

Contributor Nick Morrison writes about new guidance from UNESCO, the UN’s education and cultural arm, which warns that “generative AI could be a huge opportunity for human development, but it can also cause harm and prejudice,” said Audrey Azoulay, director-general. . organization. “It cannot be integrated into education without public participation and necessary safeguards and regulations from the government.” Read more here.

Facts and comments

Ahead of this Labor Day, Jobs for the Future surveyed more than 2,200 workers and found that workers who say they have high-quality jobs are consistently more likely to feel productive than their peers in low- to moderate-quality jobs (46% vs. 29%), happy (40% vs. 14%), and optimistic (34% vs. 15%).

  • 19 million: The number of workers (or more) who are estimated to earn less than $15 an hour.
  • Two thirds: Proportion of workers in low-wage jobs between the ages of 24 and 55, the years considered to be a worker’s prime working years.
  • “Unless every employee has access to quality jobs, we cannot expect a thriving, engaged workforce.”—Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future


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WeWork said on Sept. 6 that it plans to renegotiate “almost all” of its leases to try to lower operating costs and stay in business for “years to come,” an announcement that came weeks after the co-working space company warned of its potential to stay. There was doubt in the business. How many locations did the company have as of June 30?

  1. 906
  2. 390
  3. 777
  4. 653

Check if you got it here.

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