The Future of Work: The 2040 Workplace

Posted By on August 18, 2015

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Johnson Controls’ Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) business  ‘Smart Workplace 2040 report’ claims that 25 years from now, work will be seen as something workers do, rather than a place to which they commute. Ways of working will be very different as a new generation of what it terms ‘workspace consumers’ choose their time and place of work. Most workers will frequently work from home, and will choose when to visit work hubs to meet and network with others. There will be no set hours and the emphasis will be on getting work done, while workers’ wellness will take priority. Technology will bring together networks of individuals who operate in an entrepreneurial way, with collaboration the major driver of business performance.

The GWS report looks at the workplace of the future through the eyes of Nina, a knowledge worker living in 2040. Nina’s working environment is split across her home, her eco-campus in the city, and other working hubs to which she has access. She has a “flexwork” contract meaning there is no limit to how little or how much she works as long as the work is done.

Nina’s home is also a hyper-connected, adaptive environment that responds to her family’s bio-health indicators, while complex software applications suggest what Nina should do to maximize performance.

The main characteristics of the workplace of the future described in the report are:

  1. Adaptable, radical working patterns
  2. Choice: Workers will decide where and how they want to work.
  3. Location: ‘Trophy workplaces’ will provide a highly experiential environment.
  4. Entrepreneurship will be the norm thanks to technological advances.
  5. Collaboration will be a major driver of enterprise performance.
  6. Human services will be seen as a premium offering; support services will enhance the experience as users interact with their surroundings.
  7. Health and wellness will be prioritized over work.A heavy reliance on networks and “crowdsourcing” to co-create product ideas.

Dr. Marie Puybaraud, the report’s author and director of GWS Global WorkPlace Innovation, said

Six years ago, we described how technology would transform the way we work by 2030. Since then we have seen a significant acceleration in technological developments with the launch of the iPad, the invasion of the first wearable technologies, and remote working becoming the norm. This new report takes our vision a step further. In 2040 we will consume space, not own it, so the report envisions how this will affect the everyday life of an employee and businesses. The findings have implications for leaders and real estate managers around the world as they anticipate the way our society and technology is changing and transforming the way we work.

The report makes eight recommendations, including dismantling the fixed office hours model in favour of flexible working contracts, focusing workspaces on end users’ needs and enhancing service delivery to embrace a high human touch, while designing working environments that reflect new ways of collaborating across teams. It also suggests organizational transformations to improve the way dispersed teams work together, and the integration of ‘shy’ technologies to track activity, record experiences and respond to user demand. I also think that there will be an increased use of nootropics, and reduced inconvenience of eating normal lunches in these environments to help transitory people focus to get work done – see this post by the International Business Times. Or maybe rented workpods and one-bag living for the younger generation.

Here is a presentation I gave, during my tenure running Freelancer.com in North America, regarding the future of work, entitled ‘Welcome to the Future’:

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Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.


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