Jun 12, 2020 digital transformation

The Future of Work in the U.S. and China

By Gareth Noyes

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Research in China and the U.S. indicate what the future of work could look like—and location matters.

Forecasters might assume that the future of work in industries such as aviation/aerospace, medical equipment manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, and telecommunications will include a post-pandemic return to offices and manufacturing facilities. However, new Wind River research (conducted mid to late April 2020) into these industries shows that technology leaders in IoT, embedded, security, 5G, and cloud development have a very different set of visions in the U.S. compared to China. U.S. leaders are 30% more likely to see the idea of remote working becoming the norm compared to their peers in China.

More importantly, COVID-19 is radically changing more than just employee work location. U.S. technology leaders are 77% more likely to see an opportunity to realign how teams work, use technologies, and digitally transform ideas for the post–COVID-19 world. At the same time, 40% of these U.S. leaders, compared to just under one in three of their peers in China, see a further chance to reduce OPEX in the near future.

As the chart below shows, U.S. leaders will encourage the double-edged swords of increasing the use of technology for teamwork (62%) and remote working (40%). Ideas about reducing ongoing costs mitigate against extending old OPEX models after COVID-19. Technologies such as 5G, the cloud, and AI all become increasingly interesting factors in the attempt to automate functions, increase collaborative speed, improve quality, and inform decision-making.

In critical industries, developing in the cloud and working remotely using dynamic and collaborative platforms will be far more common. Imagine developing complex embedded devices remotely or building new cloud-native applications and digital twins for the edge in a secure and agile way—from home. It might sound surreal, but these could be the new working conditions we will increasingly experience in the next decade, propelled by COVID-19.

Given the power of real-time data in a digital world, we will need to develop more than just new work processes for a post–COVID-19 world. We will also be developing technologies that enable a full and effective level of collaboration across new digital platforms.


From mid to late April 2020, Wind River® researched beliefs, strategies, and forward projections among technology (embedded, IT, security, and cloud) leaders in five major industries (telecom, aviation, medical industries, automotive, and industrial manufacturing) in China and the USA. Further analysis, the report, and infographics are available at www.windriver.com/covid19-industry-impact/.

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