In 2020, the annual conference was cancelled due to COVID-19. In lieu of conference, the ATRF Scientific Committee held a free Webinar on the issue of Work Beyond COVID-19. Topics such as workplace and wellbeing, resilience, new global trends in mobility and the role of spatial and temporal flexibility provided a lively debate and interaction. A brief summary of the presenters and their focus in the webinar. A recording of the event is available at youtu.be/g1iamhtgYRc and a follow-up post by Professor Glenn Lyons is available at www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-did-we-meet-anyway-basis-thinking-post-covid-working-glenn-lyons .
(Facilitator: Lindsay Oxlad) Consultant
Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility, University of the West of England Bristol. Glenn is the Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility at UWE Bristol in the UK. He is seconded for half his time to Mott MacDonald, creating a bridge between academia and practice. Throughout his research career he has focused upon the role of new technologies in supporting and influencing travel behaviour both directly and through shaping lifestyles and social/working practices. Recent and ongoing engagements include helping transport authorities accommodate future uncertainty in a vision-led approach to planning, policymaking and investment; and examining the need for transport planning practice to evolve.
Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Curtin University, Director of the ‘Centre for Transformative Work Design’ ARC Laureate Fellow Sharon K. Parker is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor at Curtin University, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University, and a Fellow of the Australian Acagemy of Social Science. She is a recipient of the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Award, the Academy of Management OB Division Mentoring Award and, in November of 2019, Sharon was named among the world’s most influential scientists and social scientists in the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list released by the Web of Science Group, and the only female in Australia appearon on this list in the field of Economics and Business. She is a past Associate Editor for Academy of Management Annals, and has published more than 150 articles in leading journals on topics like work design, proactive behaviour, and job performance.
Behaviour change specialist and Director of ‘Concepts of Change’ Liz is internationally known as a behaviour change specialist who has worked closely with individuals, communities and organisations to develop methods in which individuals gain personal benefits while they are also positively influencing their environment and their community. She is particularly skilled at facilitating people to understand their own behaviour or that of their organisation and allow them to work out likely behaviours/changes for the future – in areas as divers as car use, waste and water. She has worked with organisations and groups of organisations to develop behavriour change strategies. While Behaviour Change is her main area of interest, Liz is also internationally known as a survey specialist (from design, to modelling to understanding planning needs to implementation and analysis). She has co-authored several books on this subject.
Professor Lyons’ presentation ‘Why did we meet anyway? A basis for thinking about post-COVID working patterns’ focused on the societal response to the pandemic in terms of WFH, which has revealed that a considerable proportion of the population can work from home. With many of us being on an intensive training programme in 2020 in terms of using digital connectivity and tools to run and participate in meetings and workshops, the big question is, what proportion of the population will want to WFH, if and when the pandemic is behind us? Alongside this is the question of to what extent employers and governments will want WFH? Looking to the future may be informed by looking to the (recent) past. Why were many of us engaging in commuting and business travel? Was it out of a sense of obligation and ritual or did we really relish (all of) it? Unlike many rather short-lived ‘trials’ that explore new behaviours, the pandemic is giving us sustained exposure to the prospect of new norms – a chance to weigh up the pros and cons, and a chance to establish new habits – and perhaps collective new habits in the knowledge economy that are locking us in to an emerging new regime of how, when and where we all work. In her presentation entitled ‘Flexible working during the pandemic and beyond’, Professor Parker outlined findings from research conducted by her team at the ‘Centre for Transformative Work Design’ on working from home during the pandemic, as well as broader management/psychology research on the topic. She discussed some of the pros and cons of working from home for mental health and well-being, and how these can be managed through work design, leadership, and via individuals’ personal strategies. Professor Parker also addressed likely implications for the uptake of flexible working beyond the pandemic and how most organisations will need to create a balance between work in the office and at home, with implications for commuting. Professor Ampt brought a distinct perspective in her ‘Data Stories and Plans’, focusing on collecting data in an ongoing way so that when changes occur there is background data from which to make comparisons. The approaches she covers give examples of simple ways to gain ongoing travel related data that could be used to identify changes in organisations, schools, local activity centres or even communities, and be more prepared to address substantial behavioural changes (voluntary and ‘nudged’). The webinar provided an opportunity to reflect on the unique year of 2020 and its impact on our local, national and global transport communities. Doina Olaru and Brett Smith PATREC, University of Western Australia