AMBS academics feature prominently in a new publication from Policy@Manchester which assesses the digital divide in the UK and the impact the pandemic is having on such inequalities.
While the pandemic has forced much of our daily life to shift online it has also exposed a widening gap in our society, with nine million adults in the UK unable to use the internet without help and 3.8 million people having never used the internet.
Commentaries from academics in On Digital Inequalities put forward recommendations to policymakers about how we might be able to now address and reduce the inequalities we are seeing in the digital space.
Debra Howcroft, Professor of Technology and Organisation (writing with Professor Phil Taylor from the University of Strathclyde) discusses homeworking experiences during lockdown. While the en-masse relocation of white-collar work was initially viewed as an emergency response, she writes about how this is now looking like a potential watershed moment. But experiences differ based on sector, employer and role, and the article looks specifically at call centre workers.
Abbie Winton, a PhD researcher at the Work and Equalities Institute, looks at accelerated automation, digital advances, and employment in the world of food retail. The pandemic has triggered an unforeseen shift as many consumers moved to buying food online (growing 25.5% in 2020 compared to the 8.5% previously anticipated). This has prompted retailers to expand their dotcom offering almost overnight to both meet demand and stay competitive.
Bart van Ark, Professor of Productivity Studies and Managing Director of The Productivity Institute, discusses how although digital technology has helped us cope with the pandemic it is essential that the productivity gains from digital technology adoption become less divisive, and more inclusive. Better access to the sources of productivity, inclusive productivity measures, and coordinated and evidence-based policymaking are key to making digital technology benefit all.
Senior Lecturer Dr Anita Greenhill also looks at rewriting the creative sector’s digital transformation. She says that creative industries are arguably one of the most digitally diverse working sectors within the UK. However, because the industry straddles both the movie and sports domain through to music and entertainment, many within the sector aren’t well-equipped to move into a more digital world of work, a transformation that the pandemic has accelerated.