Never Going Back: How Covid-19 changed work for good

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Review by Dr. Jim Ware, Work&Place, San Francisco, September 2021
Never Going Back: How Covid-19 changed work for good by Peter Thomson and Mark Thomas

Wisework Books (17 May 2021)


By now you have probably been told in breathless terms that at least two dozen books about post-pandemic life and work are “Must-Read.”   And that would be only a small fraction of the books and articles that have appeared since covid-19 turned our lives – and work patterns – inside out.   There are hundreds of authors, consultants, and other self-appointed experts who want you to suck up their “insights” and predictions about how work (and life) will never be same once (and if) the virus finally settles down to a relatively minor nuisance.

I don’t claim to have read, or even heard of, anywhere near all of those “you can’t-survive-without reading this one” books.   However, I can wholeheartedly recommend one highly personal and truly insightful book that does a better job of laying out how we got here and where we are going than anything else I have seen. It’s called Never Going Back: How covid-19 changed work for good.

A joint effort by Peter Thomson, CEO of The FutureWork Forum, and Mark Thomas, a marketing expert and entrepreneur, this book describes how some businesses survived and even thrived in the early days of the pandemic, what they learned from those experiences, and how they – and their employees – have invented new and highly effective ways of working that they know will outlast the pandemic and lead to vastly improved levels of productivity, profitability, and employee satisfaction.

We’re Never Going Back to:

Pointless presenteeism
Commuter stress
Congested cities
Micro management
Polluted planet

Choose instead:

Energised employees
Happier homes
Smarter supervision
Cleaner cities
Greener globe

Yes, it all sounds too good to be true, but Thomson and Thomas have made me a believer. This book is filled with highly personal stories as well as thoughtful analysis of big-picture trends. It reflects the insights not only of two experienced businessmen and entrepreneurs but also of many other thought-leaders and practitioners who the authors have listened to and learned from.

The book has no over-the-top pontificating, and it makes no claim to clairvoyance; rather it extrapolates to the future by building on the past and the present, and it projects from real-life experiences to paint a future that is both logical and compelling.

I don’t usually end book reviews with sweeping recommendations, but in this case I can sincerely say:  If you read only a single book about the future of work in the post-pandemic world, make it this one.

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