WMF 12 challenges of the Future: Future of Work

The "Future of Work" challenge focuses on the changes that will affect the future work environment, informed by technological, generational, and social changes.

Tuesday 3 January 2023
Written by
Leonardo Galasso

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Digital Innovation startup

New technologies - from automation to algorithmic management - are increasingly widespread and indispensable, but they inevitably introduce new challenges from the social point of view: one of the main problems is the growing inequality related to digitalization. As explained by entrepreneur and computer scientist Stefano Quintarelli on the Mainstage of WMF 2022, "We must not underestimate a digital cultural divide: some people move at ease inside the immaterial space, while others experience great difficulties. It is necessary to encourage the acquisition of digital skills, which will be increasingly important for social inclusion, and it is necessary to shape human-centric and trustworthy automation and artificial intelligence".

Another fundamental issue concerns the new digital business models that threaten traditional welfare mechanisms - such as the platform economy - and pose new questions to which the global community of innovators must find timely answers. From these reflections stemmed the proposal of the National Collective Labor Agreement for digital-tech jobs, developed by the WMF Network and by Search On Media Group, together with the Associazione Italia Digitale, which on the occasion of 18th National Congress UIL, has brought to the attention of national unions problems and peculiarities of digital jobs, including the profession of the content creator.

Only through research, innovation, and the adoption of a system of ethical rules will we, in fact, be able to deploy these principles, to support the future of work focused on men and women, rather than on technologies. During the last edition of the Festival, physicist and inventor Federico Faggin addressed the difference in the mechanics of behavior between man and machine, reminding us that if a man expresses his experience through linguistic forms that contain certain information, the machine can express the same concepts through specific algorithms; and although the information might be the same, its origin is placed into two completely different reference systems. Men's behavior is characterized by imperfection and indetermination, but the courageous actions that change the course of history, that pivot cultures and social contexts, are the complex outcome of a mixture of logical thinking, feelings, and intuition.

The most important challenge of the coming years will be to change the idea of who we are: to think and behave like men and women.

Structural changes and work reorganization

During WMF2022 the issues fielded by the third challenge of the Future were also addressed by Stefano Besana, Digital, and Future of Work Lead at EY, which reiterated the profound change that in recent years has affected the work methods: "Today, more than ever, people’s expectations, desires, and behavior are increasingly influenced by the communities they belong to. For this, it is necessary to deeply rethink our models of learning, leadership, and skills management within organizations, to reshape a work environment more suitable for women and men".

Bailey stressed some emblematic data about the change we are witnessing: by 2022 it is estimated a job displacement of 75 million people, more than half of all world employees will need a significant reskilling, at least 133 million new job roles will emerge as a result of the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms. By 2030, a growth trend of 1.5% is assumed for employees in IT and telecommunications.

Therefore, it will be crucial for humans to learn to work alongside machines, providing empathy, creative problem-solving, complex lateral thinking, and human judgment to the results of AI algorithms. This is why business leaders must prepare employees for the future of work, giving them the right tools to develop awareness and skills.

However, there is still much work to be done in the retraining sector inside organizations and companies. Employee management and collaboration software tools and solutions are at the top of the list when it comes to implementing new digital solutions within the workplace. Such solutions are essential to keep employees connected and informed about important and frequent company and local authority updates.

In line with the path mapped out by the 2030 UN Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the aim of reshaping a collective, inclusive and sustainable future, WMF - We Make Future encourages startups that put at the center of their business model one or more of the 12 challenges of the Future. These challenges are identified by WMF to promote innovative solutions that positively impact the environment and communities; below are some of the startups we encountered along the way, that have responded to the Future of Work challenge.

The startups accepting this challenge

The main areas of reference to face the third challenge of the Future are New ways of working, Digital HR, Change management, Diversity & Inclusion, Intranet, Intrapreneurship, Meta* for work, Tools for digital nomads, Design &project/task management, Voice&Video, Data protection. Among the over 1,000 startups that participated in the last edition of the Festival, some have focused their business model on the development of innovative solutions in one or more of these sectors, let’s discover some of them together.


Contents.com is a market leader in the design, creation, and transformation of content. By developing a proprietary one-stop-shop online platform, Contents.com helps companies produce multilingual, unique, and performing content that integrates AI efficiency and human creativity. In addition, to meet the needs of the market, the company also provides customized content automation and content strategy solutions. Founded in 2020 by the idea of Massimiliano Squillace, entrepreneur and angel investor in various Italian and foreign companies, Contents.com currently employs 55 people and has offices in Milan, Madrid, and Las Vegas.

Helm Order Monitor

Through Elnav, which operates in the field of Naval Advanced Safety Systems, Hrvoje Mihovilović has developed Helm Order Monitor, the first technological solution to the problem of monitoring orders between helmsman and pilot or navigator on board ships. It is an electronic device that combines automatic voice recognition and data gathered by ship sensors. This artificial intelligence continuously evaluates whether orders at the helm are clear, confirmed, and executed correctly.


Through data collection and tracking platforms, Restworld supports the meeting between the demand and supply of work in the Ho.re.Ca. sector (Hotellerie-Restaurant-Café) with a new and more sustainable approach, designed to meet the needs of the job market in the hotel industry. In a work market that constantly evolves faster than its single structures, Restworld tries to give a push toward the future in a more decisive way by combining the human component, careful and professional, with a state-of-the-art technological counterpart.


Robotizr aims to simplify and democratize the programming process of industrial machinery automation, the gateway to the Industry 4.0 paradigm. Implementing industrial automation becomes affordable for everyone thanks to the no-code visual system that eliminates the steep learning curve of traditional programming languages.


Teamsight is an HR Tech startup that transforms millions of digital interactions into valuable insights. The IRIS People Analytics platform analyzes business interactions via email, chat, call and video, with an AI engine that quantifies and suggests in real-time what are the areas in which the teams need more support, and allows the user to activate corrective actions that can be monitored over time.








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