Global speakers and sector leaders came together to explore the future of work on day one of Housemark’s Disruption and Innovation in Housing in the Devolved Nations (DIN) event.

Social landlords from across the devolved nations learnt about how the future of work is changing, what needs to be considered as we emerge from the pandemic and were inspired by how innovative technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) can help drive innovation and transformation. There’s still time to join the disruption for day two on Tuesday, 16 November.

The event kicked off with Patrick Connolly, Research Manager at Accenture, with a session on the power of AI and what the future workforce could look like. He delved into how to successfully create a symbiotic workforce of the future where people work alongside machines to support business strategy and improve services.

We learnt that there is an assumption that AI is always superior to humans and this needs to be challenged. Humans and machines need to work together for maximum effectiveness. When considering AI, it’s important to get your people on board, as they’re much more likely to embrace symbiotic systems than standalone AI.

Still on the theme of AI, closing keynote speaker Toju Duke from Google Ireland, led an insightful session on why you should consider inclusion in your AI systems. Toju spoke about the inherent biases within AI and the importance of building systems that are fair and represent all people in society.

Other speakers on the day also led inspiring and thoughtful sessions on the future of work, providing delegates with tangible takeaways on how they can ensure their organisations are ready for the future.

Kaleem Clarkson, Chief Operating Officer at Blend Me Inc, led an energetic session on transitioning to an effective hybrid-remote model. We learnt about the importance of understanding that each employee is completely different with different preferences and circumstances. Adopting the right hybrid-remote model will help businesses to accommodate employee lifestyles and hold on to their best talent.

A cultural shift in some organisations needs to happen from presenteeism to one built on trust and focused on outcomes, not how long someone has logged on for. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) enables employees to be clear on what they need to deliver and then be rewarded for this when their KPIs are met. Think about what difference you want that person to make. Think as leaders, what do you want them to have achieved?

We then listened to Elkie Astley, Head of People and Culture at Loreburn Housing Association, share the experiences that they have had with transitioning to a hybrid-remote model and some top tips for successful hybrid-remote working, including the importance of creating boundaries to prevent overworking. Management set the precedent for this and if emails and communications are sent out of hours, what message does this send to other employees? She told us that you shouldn’t create an always-on culture and that employees’ mental health and wellbeing is a priority and to encourage them to openly talk about mental wellbeing.

Ruth Young, National Lead of Executive Search and Leadership Solutions Housing and Not for Profit Division, The Adecco Group, also reiterated the need moving forward for flexible working, as she told us that since the pandemic, people have changed their mindset about what is important in life. As people are seeking more time for themselves and with friends and family, companies should embrace this with more flexible working practices.

Day one of our Disruption and Innovation event left delegates with lots to take away and highlighted that the world of work will no longer be the same as it was pre-pandemic and is being shaped right now. To be successful, organisations need to embrace this change and cultural shift.

We’ll further explore disruption and innovation on day two of our conference on 16 November, which focuses on the timely and pressing subject of sustainable housing and digital communities. We have a fantastic line up of speakers including our keynote speaker James Elhrich from ReGen Villages, who is also speaking at Cop26, all about designing sustainable, regenerative, technology-based communities.