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COVID-19 has accelerated a number of work pattern trends, affecting the fundamentals of how we work, when we work and why we work. The tourism and hospitality is not a ‘work from home’ industry, it is a service industry that is about the provision of food, accommodation, and related activities. COVID-19 has affected the industry in several ways, in particular accelerating trends such as the scarcity of labour. So, could technology be a substitute for work? Professor Ian Yeoman spoke on this topic most recently at Edinburgh Napier University. Exploring trends such as automation, machine learning, brain computer interfaces, molecular nanotechnology and laws of accelerated returns, Professor Ian Yeoman presented four scenarios about the future of work including:

Robbie the Chef represents a world without human chefs in which production robots run the kitchen. This is a fully automated world. This is an example of the dramatic rise of robotics, automation, the advancement of science and rapid changes in technology. This is a fully automated world with a new leisure society. These changes address the massive labour shortages brought about because of an ageing population and competition between sectors.

West World Holiday Park is a popular tourist attraction about indulgent experiences shaped by advanced robots and avatars. It is supported by a thriving technology sector, showcasing how tourism has become an automated and contactless industry.

Weekends Only is a scenario about tourism businesses’ constant struggle for labour which resulted in a smaller but more professional industry, in which businesses have had to adapt to the competition for labour through career planning, incentives and social entrepreneurship.

The Day We Ran Out of Chefs represents how the tourism and hospitality sector became unsustainable as it couldn’t compete with other industries which offered better terms and conditions.