The case for flexible working and global mobility

The key opportunity presented by the pandemic is ensuring that we developed sufficient technology to enable the vast majority of us to work and live anywhere in the world. In terms of economic implications, this means that the old assumption that labour is immobile, and capital mobile, is potentially no longer true. This has significant implications in terms of power imbalances, and opens up potential in terms of where we can work. Economically, it makes the market more efficient, and makes responding to shifts in demand and supply easier if we can work anywhere. Politically, the phenomenon fixes the power imbalances we have seen historically; as if capital and labour are both mobile, this reduces the risk that labour is exploited. This has huge ramifications for labour bargaining, unions and politics, as well as for the need for the old class based ideologies of the 20th century. This is important, as capitalism concentrates wealth, and capital accumulates and creates inequalities. During the last major economic structural transition we saw a move from feudalism to capitalism, accompanied with mass movement of labour to urban centres and cities globally, which led to increases in wealth in global metropolises, surges in house prices, as well as the cost of living becoming increasingly expensive in areas where we saw heightened economic activity. Moreover, this divide created inequalities not only between rural and urban areas, but also between the global south and the global north. The level of social, political and economic issues which we’ve seen that stem from this modern phenomenon are endless – from the current farmers protests in India to the recent storming of the capitol in Washington DC – there is a call for economic and political devolution, and a need to fix urban versus rural divides.




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