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Newsroom Feature: Future of Work

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Ongoing and accelerating changes are shaping the future of work. What does this mean for worker safety, health, and well-being? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)’s Future of Work Initiative seeks to better understand and address both new and long-standing worker safety, health, and well-being issues as the workplace evolves. Learn more about the future of work.

The future of work is rapidly evolving due to changes in the workplace, work, and workforce. Examples include increases in remote work and non-standard work arrangements; emerging technologies and associated job displacement; shifting demographics; job and economic security; and up- and re-skilling needs and gaps. Driven by advances in industry, the future of work movement is also marked by the accelerated pace of developments connecting people, places, and things, and has created both opportunities and challenges with implications for worker safety, health, and well-being. As a result, innovative and responsive occupational safety and health strategies are needed.

NIOSH Total Worker Health® Approach

One evidence-based occupational safety and health strategy to examine and address changes in the future of work is the Total Worker Health® (TWH) framework. TWH recognizes work as a social determinant of health and offers an integrated and holistic approach to protect and advance worker safety, health, and well-being. This approach also improves our understanding of and capacity to address factors that present possible risks to today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, leading to empowered workers who thrive and contribute productively at work and at home.

NIOSH Future of Work Initiative

Responding to the evolving needs of workers, NIOSH introduced its Future of Work Initiative in 2019 with a vision to prepare the occupational safety and health ecosystem for a safer, healthier, and more productive future. To assist in this effort, members of the NIOSH Future of Work Group have:

Additional NIOSH Future of Work Activities

NIOSH expanded its existing future of work-focused portfolio by launching the Initiative to centralize and coordinate efforts Institute-wide. Check out some of the additional NIOSH future of work activities from other NIOSH Programs and Offices:

  • The NIOSH Occupational Health Equity Program published a commentary highlighting the need for a paradigm shift to a biopsychosocial model of health to effectively address persistent occupational health inequities and challenges associated with the fundamental reorganization of the world of work.
  • The NIOSH Total Worker Health® Program developed the NIOSH Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ), which can be used to assess changes in workers’ perceptions about employer policies, programs, and practices as the organization of work, demographics, and workplaces of the future evolve.
  • The NIOSH Office of Research Integration established a Strategic Foresight Initiative to lead related activities and build awareness and capacity at NIOSH and beyond. Recordings are available for the October 2021 and January 2022 installments of the Foresight Friday @ NIOSH webinar series.

Read More about Future of Work Research at NIOSH