If you think back to 15 or 20 years ago, the workplace was much different. Computers were used in business of course, but offices, restaurants, and factories were not the technology-filled places they are today. There were no touch screens, robots were rudimentary at best, and there were no real social networking sites or smart phones. People reported to the office each business day, and few people worked from home. If a call came in, a worker may have had to manually write down a message by hand.
Considering that rapid changes the workplace has undergone over the past two decades, can you imagine what it will look like in the year 2030 — about 15 years from now? Now, we certainly don’t have any powers of prediction here — we’re not decedents of Nostradamus — but we have a pretty good idea that when you show up to work in 2030, you’ll be arriving at a place that looks and feels much different than the workplace of today.
Using information from reports by Global Workplace Innovation, CBRE Workplace Strategy, and UNUM, we created a list of some of the changes the workplace will more than likely undergo over the next 15 years.
More and more workers work “with” companies, instead of “for” them
In 2030, we’ll probably see more consultants and freelancers. “An increasing number of freelance individuals, small groups and partner businesses won’t work for you. Instead, they will opt to work with you…45% of workers in the US are already described as contingent and this trend is now spreading to other regions,” explains CBRE.
Both workers and employers value quality over quantity
In its report on the future of the workplace, CBRE identified the top five sources of competitive advantage in 2030 as rated by 70 different experts and business leaders. These advantages are indicated in the chart below, along with the corresponding percentage of support each one received.
As you may notice, the future workplace seems to focus more on quality metrics, like the acquisition of top talent, innovation, and culture. And, of course, when a company holds these competitive advantages, profitability is likely to result. But more and more corporations will achieve this by increasing quality, rather than cutting costs.
Employees of the future may value a quality workplace, over a higher salary as well. “Not only are youth seeking happiness over money, but study participants reported that a majority of parents now aspire for their children to have happiness over money. Companies that fail to respond to these trends will do so at their peril,” reports CBRE.
Work and life become more intertwined
We often hear about how it’s important to have a good work-life balance. “Leave work at work” and “check your problems at the door,” are common phrases that are used to convey the theme that a healthy separation between work-life and home-life is key. In spite of these suggestions pertaining to today’s workplace, “85% of interviewees believe that work and life will become more enmeshed for more people by 2030,” according to CBRE.
A changing work environment: collaborative, virtual, global, and flexible
The work environment is already changing and taking advantages of technological resources. According to Global Workforce Analytics, the “growth of Multiple Days per Week Employee Teleworkers (not including self-employed) telecommuting increased 79.7% from 2005 to 2012.”
In the future, the need for a physical location will be reduced, and a virtual workplace will become commonplace. Many corporations will require both a physical and a virtual space, but online space will be predominant, and the value of the corporation’s virtual space should be higher than its physical space, says the Global Workforce Innovation report.
Employers may offer more flexible work arrangements, as well. In efforts to cover all time zones and meet virtual demands in a Global economy, things may shift away from the 8 to 5 day and more towards a 24/7 type of setting, where corporations use virtual employees working flexible schedules to cover all of this ground.
Technology takes the workplace to new heights
The first generation iPhone was announced in 2007, which was less than eight years ago. For most people today, their smart phone is like an extension of them; they use it for work, socializing, entertainment, and for a wide variety of other purposes. Fifteen years from now, one can only imagine the types of technology that will be available. Across all fields ranging from virtual reality to robotics, technology is evolving at a rapid pace, blurring the lines between science and science fiction.
Global Workforce Innovation describes the 2030 workplace as a “context-specific, dynamic, living entity that transcends the physical boundaries of the office and offers fluid interaction possibilities among on-site and off-site workers alike.” What exactly will it look like? Well, we’ll just wait and see.