There may be trouble ahead: what’s in store for 2023

A new report from lawyers Lewis Silkin identifies key change factors in the world of work and workplace, and predicts a darker mood in 2023

What will be the key drivers of change in the world of work in 2023? According to a new report from British law firm Lewis Silkin, which has its own Future Of Work Hub, there are eight significant factors that will shape the new global landscape in the coming year and beyond.

Report author James Davies says that in 2021 ‘the future looked relatively rosy for many’ and there was a desire to ‘build back better’. But now, he explains, the mood is different: ‘A year later, the world looks a considerably darker, more volatile and less certain place.’

Davies adds: ‘The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been severe around the world. Energy and commodities have seen prices soaring, fuelling inflation unseen in most economies for 40 years and a cost-of-living crisis. Many countries are experiencing recessions or very low growth with the UK forecast to experience the longest recession since records began over the next two years.

Against this background of political and economic turmoil, skills shortages and rising unemployment driven by long-term sickness and skilled workers voluntarily leaving the job market, as well as rapidly developing technology and climate change, are identified as factors that will drive change.

Interconnected drivers

In collating Lewis Silkin’s knowledge and data, the report highlights technology, demographics, Covid-19, globalisation, social trends, the role of the state, sustainability and migration as the eight interconnected drivers of change in 2023.

Elections across Europe, South America, Australia, Canada and the mid-term elections in America have had a profound impact on workers in their respective nations. Political upheaval in the UK has seen a resurgence of strike action by unions and protests at attempts to weaken workers’ rights.

Support for universal basic income and shifting perspectives in favour of increased taxation and public sector investment alongside support for government intervention to control energy prices will have long-term effects on employer power in the workplace.

Geopolitical incidents are likely to spill over into the world of work. A curious mix of globalisation and de-globalisation is occurring around the world, according to the report, and its impact on labour, transport and supply chains will be significant.

Already manufacturers are seeing the risks of overseas production in a new light as automation decreases labour costs. Sustainability initiatives also encourage a de-globalised view, and spikes in the cost of fuel is putting a question mark against the reasonableness of transporting products to markets on the other side of the world.

‘Sustainability initiatives also encourage a de-globalised view…’

The UK is experiencing the consequences of reduced immigration as a direct result of Brexit in the shape of skills shortages, especially in farming and retail, which are contributing to inflation. In contrast, the ability and choice for professional knowledge workers to work from anywhere means that they are taking a cross-border approach to their own employment. As global tensions fluctuate, their impact on the workforce will become increasingly clear.

Who is able to move freely and which countries they move to will have a significant impact on the global workforce and world of work. Read more about Lewis Silkin’s eight key drivers of change in 2023 here.

James Davies, Partner at Lewis Silkin LLP also talks about his perspective on the future of work in the Future of Work Hub podcast. Listen to his perspective on the multigenerational workplace, the impact of climate change and how employers must take swift action here.


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