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Ray Dalio Says the Workplace Is Never Going Back to the Same Way It Was Pre-Covid

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio believes the workplace will never return to pre-pandemic conditions as flexibility and technology became the major driving forces in the new world.

"The future of the workplace is going to be characterized by probably two things — customization and technology. We've been given a gift to be able to rethink what we are doing," Dalio said Wednesday at CNBC's @Work Summit. "I don't think we are going to go back to the old world."

"It's going to be an erratically different kind of work — what is employment? How will technology be replacing people? How will that be dealt with? How will the wealth gap be dealt with...there are going to be many, many changes over the next five years," Dalio added.

The founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, said his firm is intentionally thinking about in-person work and giving employees the freedom to work remotely. Dalio said flexible work arrangements are a competitive advantage for employers in today's job market.

"In a tight job market for that type of talent, the ability to offer flexibility ... will be an important competitive element," he said.

The U.S. economy created jobs at a much slower-than-expected pace in September, while data showed workers left their jobs at a record pace in August. Quits hit a new series high going back to December 2000, as 4.3 million workers left their jobs. 

"People are dropping out of the workforce and they are changing the nature of their jobs. You can see that adaptation," Dalio said.

The investor said technology and data allows employers to measure workers' productivity, which can help with firms that are experimenting with hybrid arrangements post-pandemic.

"You can see if someone is hard at it and they are productive. You don't have to have them in the office. There are so many tools that make it clear that how productive people are and it gives them greater freedom to be productive in that way," he said.

Missed this year's CNBC's At Work summit? Access the full sessions on demand at https://www.cnbcevents.com/worksummit/.

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