The largest shift in work life in decades is in progress

Various crises and megatrends have had a major effect on the direction in which work life is heading. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has identified four key changes that need to be paid attention to in the development of well-being at work and productivity in coming years.
kuvituskuva: työelämän muutokseen vaikuttavia kriisejä ja megatrendejä: koronapandemia, ilmastokriisi, sota Ukrainassa, energiakriisi.
Sinimaaria Ranki
Sinimaaria Ranki
Antti Koivula
Antti Koivula
Eva Helaskoski
Eva Helaskoski

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 13 January 2023

“We are undergoing the largest shift in work life in decades. The uncertainty caused by crises, massive labour shortage and the cracks shown by the welfare state are all changes that require determined development of work life,” says Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Director General Antti Koivula.

The Future Prospects of Work Life research review conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s HELP project highlighted two things that need to be focused on in the development of work life in order to bring well-being at work and productivity to the next level:

  • Ensuring adequate interaction and sense of community in remote and hybrid work.
  • Ensuring resilience and strategic reform capacity in an era of various crises.

“In terms of society’s security of supply and trust, it is important that we have resilient, healthy workplace that are able to face changes, have an outlook of the future and identify any opportunities that arise from crises,” says Antti Koivula.

The research review also reminds that the majority of productivity growth is based on the growth of overall productivity.

“Overall productivity is largely based on competence as competent workforce has better capacity to introduce new technologies and working practices. Well-being at work, on the other hand, has a key effect on the learning of the work community, the performance of employees and the accomplishment of goals. The issue is largely about how to do things smarter at workplaces,” says Leading Specialist Sinimaaria Ranki from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Crises and megatrends change the direction of work life

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s Hybrid Work, Remote Work and In-Office Work (Hybridityö, etätyö ja lähityö, HELP) project formed an overview of how work life is changing when crisis after another occurs in the middle of already identified megatrends.

“The most significant of the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was, of course, the division of work life into in-office work and remote work. Hybrid work seems to become an established form of working. This can be considered a historical change,” says Sinimaaria Ranki.

As remote work has become more common, it has accelerated or changed various trends in work life, such as digitalization. In the middle of crises, the Finnish population is ageing. With regard to work life, ageing population is a key megatrend that is advancing in the background, slowly but steadily.

Four key changes in work life

Based on research data, post-pandemic work life involves four key changes that are described in the review.

  1. Increased autonomy and more individual in-office management.
  2. The pandemic boosted digitalization.
  3. When prolonged, exclusive remote work can burn out even the most skilled experts.
  4. Digitalization boosted continuous learning at work.

Different changes may be more prevalent in different industrial sectors. Although remote work provided many with more autonomy over decision-making, the same phenomenon was seen in office work communities. The trend of independent working has been in progress for a long period of time, but it was boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Focus on preventive work ability support

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health would like to remind that there are plenty of solutions based on research data that can be used to support the work ability of the current workforce and to make it easier for new workforce to become adapted to work life.

“With regard to the availability of workforce, it is essential that as many people of working age as possible can take part in work life. Key aspects of work ability support are, for example, competence development, mental health support and interaction and sense of community,” says Chief Medical Officer and the Director of the Occupational Health unit Eva Helaskoski from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Work ability support is a key task of occupational health care services.

“Rapid changes in work life require the development of preventive occupational health services. All workplaces and occupational health care service providers must have adequate tools to meet the work ability challenges: improving mental health at work, managing cognitive stress and improving working conditions in hybrid work,” says Helaskoski.

See also

For more information, please contact

  • Antti Koivula, Director General, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, antti.koivula [at] (antti[dot]koivula[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 (0)30 474 2340
  • Sinimaaria Ranki, Leading Specialist, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, sinimaaria.ranki [at] (sinimaaria[dot]ranki[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 (0)40 520 4553
  • Eva Helaskoski, Director, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, eva.helaskoski [at] (eva[dot]helaskoski[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 (0)46 851 2432

HELP review: Changes in work life


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