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What Will the Workplace of the Future Look Like?

Business woman touching a futuristic virtual touchscreen
Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock.com

The world is constantly changing and always evolving. The workplace, on the other hand, is taking its time to adapt to modern times. Offices continue to employ the same business routine we have become accustomed to for the last 100 years: Monday to Friday, 9-to-5, cubicles, a couple of 15-minute breaks, a 30-minute lunch, and the list goes on. Nothing has really changed, except the investment in new computer equipment and a coffee machine in the break room – it’s too bad there are never enough cups to enjoy.

But the status quo might finally come to a screeching halt. Why? Because there’s a new kid in town: the millennial. Yes, that generation.

For all the flack that this tech-savvy generation gets, millennial professionals are forcing businesses – large and small – to take another look at how they operate and manage their companies. Studies suggest that millennials are more concerned with meaning and a work-life balance than higher incomes and a gold watch upon their retirement. This is bad news for employers who think they can solve the soul-sucking cubicle existence with a fatter paycheque.

Moving forward, management will need to compete for talent by modifying their business practices. Whether it is adopting a flexible work schedule or instituting a more virtual environment, the future of work may dramatically change within the next decade – just in time for the arrival of Generation Z.

Unless private firms want to experience a labour shortage and remain uncompetitive, they will need to adapt and alter their course. And this is indeed a win-win for workers of all ages.

What could your typical workplace look like in 2030?

 


 

1. Virtualisation

Have you ever wondered why the company needed to send a team of executives to the Caribbean for a one-hour meeting that could have been done over Skype? Or have you ever considered why you came into the office this morning when you could have completed your tasks at home on the computer?

A company may think that it is a state-of-the-art hub because it finally invested in a couple of new computers and high-speed Internet for the first time in 13 years. But it really isn’t, especially if it has yet to consider virtualisation, a revolutionary concept that allows workers to access their desktop computer from anywhere.

For example, you’re working on a major project in one end of the office. You are called into a meeting with your team members and, rather than talk about the work you’ve done, you can simply show them because now you can resume the project from a tablet in the meeting. In other words, the same session that was begun in one office can then be started in another location where you left off.

This can then enhance the work-from-home experience because you can sit at your kitchen table and access everything that you normally would at your workstation. As long as the business virtualises everything, from video cameras to laptops to VoIP phones, there is no excuse not to get your tasks done outside of the workplace.

Overall, it improves IT efficiency, reduces costs, enhances the employee experience and allows the introduction of remote workers.

 

2. Redundancy

Let’s be honest: for the most part, the office is a redundant environment.

Recent studies have regularly shown that workers feel they can work from home and that they would be more productive by tapping away at their keyboards in their humble abodes. Of course, it is impossible in some industries than others, but if you’re confined to a cubicle all day, then why couldn’t you at least clock in one day a week in the comfort of your kitchen, attic or living room?

Ultimately, the office of the future is anywhere you’d like it to be. Because of technology, the average white-collar employee can get the job done at a park, coffee shop or library. Many workers agree that it is unnecessary to commute one hour to a centralised location to do things you could do in your three-bedroom townhouse or bachelor flat.

Cloud sharing, mobile devices, hyper-connectivity and a more virtualised company are ingredients for a recipe of remote working. Sure, there will be an office setting, but it will not require 200 disgruntled employees to converge to 200-plus days a year.

Plus, the abolishment of the office could create an abundance of other job opportunities and entirely new industries.

 

3. Hiring

Believe it not, but the way companies hire employees will change within the next decade. From recruiting to interviewing, the human resources department will not rely on scanning your CV for a few seconds or personally perusing through your LinkedIn profile to find the next great candidate.

That will all go out the window by 2030. There are three main trends beginning to occur in the hiring process:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): By the next decade, ‘there’s an app for that’ will be an old expression. Instead, it will be ‘there’s AI for that’. Hiring managers will inevitably utilise AI tools to navigate through the talent pool, even when searching for freelancers. Machine-learning algorithms and natural language processing (NLP) can determine your attention to detail, cultural fit, education, suitability and so much more.
  • Targeted advertising: Anyone who has spent at least one week on the Internet realises that the world wide web is full of junk, which can make it difficult for your job ads to be seen. To avoid this, targeted advertising is increasingly becoming an important facet in employment schemes. By using recruiting software applications and services, you can target the right candidates by placing ads in front of their eyes, in the same way Amazon markets their goods on every website you visit.
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO): SEO isn’t just to increase your website’s rankings on Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo. Business can take advantage of SEO to increase their job ads’ presence and visibility. But the days of keyword stuffing are over. The present and future of SEO is mobile and social media: make your website mobile-friendly and be active on social media (hold Instagram Live behind-the-scenes sessions or use LinkedIn Recruiter to nab the best and brightest).

On the internet, nothing stays the same. So, by the time millennials are on the cusp of retirement, some other trends will be prevalent in the workforce.

 

 

4. Design

Should the days of wine coolers and staring out the window (seriously, it’s 4pm, and it’s already dark outside?) persist, companies will have no other alternative but to consider a different design of the workspace. Unless employers wish to increase share prices for razorblade companies, they need to think about how to liven up the office.

While every business is different, the general makeup of the office space is the same: cubicles, workstations, lunch rooms and other mainstays of the last century or so.

Will it be different in the next 10 years? If the office is here to stay, then this is what you could look forward to, according to various interior design experts:

  • Furniture: You may come across unusual concepts, but office furniture will generally consist of built-in technology, ergonomic features, compact systems and a so-called living office design (you can convince yourself that you really are working from home, except you’re not).
  • Multi-faceted: There will be three primary areas in the future workplace: open (an incubator setting), isolated (individual time to work) and green (a place to relax and enjoy nature).
  • AI: ‘I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that’. That could be your future as more companies will invest in robots to assist in everyday tasks. The forecasts of a complete robotic takeover are likely overblown, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be working side by side with the HAL 9000.
  • Alternative spaces: Even if the office concept survives the future, there will be alternative spaces. The more popular innovations are the enclosed private office pods in your home or WorkOnWheels, an autonomous vehicle that helps you work on the go.

Which poison do you prefer? The grey cubicle that eats away at your soul as you sit in isolation for eight hours or a hub that gives you the chance to work all the time?

 

5. Technology

Didn’t ya know? Autonomous robots are so 2025. While this is a trend that will be widespread across the modern workforce, it won’t be the only significant technological change to happen to your office. Fifty years ago, typewriters, receptionists and physical meetings were the norm. Fifty years later, these things will be common:

  • AR and VR: Augmented reality (AR) will certainly be a game-changer in both blue- and white-collar jobs to enhance any project or receive real-time updates. Virtual reality (VR) will also boost collaborative teamwork efforts as you can participate in virtual meetings with your coworkers all over the world.
  • Holographs: There are two ways holographs will become integral to the workplace. The first is establishing (again) virtual meetings with colleagues worldwide. The second is to rapidly produce, revise or edit documents that are plastered mid-air – no more silly red, black and blue marker pens!
  • IoT: You have likely heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), but you still have no clue what it’s all about. Let’s just say IoT will become vital to the workplace because the company can utilise IoT sensors to monitor employee behaviours, track productivity peak times and complete various tasks that do not require the human touch (like turning off the lights if the room is empty).
  • Health and wellness: The office life is killing us – literally! Parked in a seat for seven hours a day, hunched over a desk for the same length of time and typing hundreds or thousands of words per day. You can get diagnosed with a diverse array of ailments, ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to circulatory diseases. But with a mix of IoT and ergonomic designs, the office may actively work to prevent sicknesses from forming and perhaps even improve your health over the long-haul. That gives you an increased lifespan to work a few more years and attend the obligatory Christmas party. Oh, joy.

The office space may or may not survive the future, but if it does, this is the life you can expect to live.

 


 

It is difficult to predict the future. Remember: the futurologists from the 1950s predicted that we would only be working a few hours a day, flying around on jetpacks and colonising the moon by now. These have yet to come to fruition. So, will the future workplace be comprised of robots, VR tools and AI hiring strategies? Or will the office go extinct? Only time will tell. Until then, enjoy the two-hour daily commute, inane office chatter and broken-down vending machine!

What are your predictions for the future workplace? Join the conversation down below and let us know!