- The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Future of Work Initiative is a complex set of practical and research guidelines designed to mitigate risk and harm associated with rapid changes in the future of work.
- The CDC intends to equip employers and workers with the tools to cope with adaptations — specifically, to prevent maladaptation that leads to adverse health outcomes.
- Workplace design, work arrangements, and the use of automation to augment work capacities are all key factors the CDC recommends in its “integrated approach” to induce positive health outcomes for workers and employers alike.
Significant changes to work modalities, dynamics, or design have historically come with notable health outcomes.
As the future of work is in the present, we can see this from our perspective — for example, with mental health and the metabolic outcomes of office work.
The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)’s Future of Work initiative is a large-scale effort to compile data on the many complex changes occurring in the occupational world in the future that will impact health, so that workers and employers can safely adapt.
As the future of work is now, these are guidelines that are already implementable. The CDC’s Future of Work initiative was designed to be practicable, so here are the key takeaways from it that employers and workers can use to decrease the likelihood of adverse health outcomes in the future of work:
1. Use an Integrated Approach to Worker Health and Wellness
The CDC’s Future of Work initiative recommends using an “integrated approach” to worker health and wellness, but what does that entail?
The integrated approach encourages a holistic view of worker health from the perspective of a business owner or manager.
In some cases, the opposite of this is true. For example, employers or managers can be reluctant to allow workers to work remotely, despite having had unique health situations explained to them.
The integrated approach takes office design, work modality, and production methods as a worker’s choice insofar as (1) it produces identical output as it would otherwise and (2) it has a basis in the worker’s unique health situation.
In considerable measure, this means embracing worker autonomy, having compassion for burnout, and, most importantly, understanding your workers.
2. Embrace Automation
Automation is not apocalyptic; it usually enhances worker productivity and wellness and does not displace workers.
Using Grammarly can speed up the editorial or copywriting process for writers and editors. Likewise, for graphic designers, artificial intelligence like DALL-E 2 can be used to spur visual inspiration.
Automation also permits educational programs, such as Udemy, to allow individuals to acquire lucrative skills online easily.
Having an increased set of lucrative skills is the primary indicator of success in the future of work — making automation, for the most part, something that enhances worker health.
3. Use New Modalities to Lift Disadvantaged Groups
One of the most significant factors holding those with disabilities back is discrimination in employment. Slogans to be “inclusive” aren’t enough — practical inclusiveness is necessary.
In the case of disabled workers, as the CDC mentions, remote work is an option that reliably lifts them out of poverty.
If one is to move beyond slogans into practice inclusiveness for the disabled, having a remote option would make sense.
Disabled workers in remote settings may find it comforting to be approached with the option, with the intention of health enhancement behind the offer.
Employers that consider the diversity of health outcomes in how they organize office space design and work modality options will be ahead of their times by genuinely abiding by the future of work in the present.