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Sunday, February 28, 2016

What will the workplace of 2026 look like?

"What will the workplace of 2026 look like?" reports Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect.

Source: IDG Connect

“I was very surprised by what she demanded…” said my friend from across the pint-glass-strewn pub table: “Her own desk… and a window!”

He was talking about a colleague who has left his company for pastures new. And the real draw of her new role was not pay, or career opportunities – but where she physically sat. Because, although it is increasingly normal to hot desk in a huge windowless bunker, some people just hate it. “Flexibility” isn’t for everyone.

Over the last decade, a lot of things have changed around offices. Back then, most people worked on a fixed desktop. Now, many do everything on mobile or a laptop. And it is increasingly normal to work from home, in a coffee shop or on a train. Yet at present, we’re still clearly in a state of transition.

So, what is the workplace likely to look like by 2026? Well, to find out, we asked experts to step forward and present their views. We have collated the results together into this short online report.

What will the workplace of 2026 look like?
In total just over 30 different individuals offered their opinions on the workplace in ten years’ time. Obviously, the majority – although not all – had a vested interest in the technologies they were tipping for success, which makes their feedback not entirely reliable. But even so, most of the results were a clear continuation of what we’re seeing today, and proved remarkably consistent. In fact, two main things emerged.

Firstly, the physical office itself will become even more irrelevant than it is today. More than half the people we spoke to told us the main thing we’d notice was people would be working everywhere.

The implications suggested include a move towards “work life integration”, a work environment that is better suited to our “emotional needs” and a working week which is more focused on results than hours. This in turn would help us move away from big, congested cities. 

The second thing people told us is that the physical office that does remain will become even more high-tech with highly automated applications that help employees perform better. This could mean offices that understand your light and heat preferences – and potentially – biometric readings, which use body data to produce better environments. The upshot of all this would be technology which is so seamless and invisible that most people will never think about it anymore.

Other ideas presented include: hand-writing will die out, we’ll be probably working alongside robots and, more subtly, the technology we use at work will be better than the stuff we have at home...

What other predictions did people make?Several people feel that as technology becomes more sophisticated it will become more of a silent partner in our lives. “The awareness of the technology behind a product will become much more discreet,” says David Quantrell, Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMEA at Box.

“Instead, the focus will be on usability and functionality.”

While Daniel Model, Manager of Sales Engineering Europe at Acronis says by then “technology will be completely integrated and nearly invisible in all aspects of life that we will have difficulties to imagine how pre-digital life was even possible. Data is becoming the new oil of today’s world already, in 2026, we would cease to exist without data.”

Photo: Leslie Willcocks
Professor Leslie Willcocks of the London School of Economics believes that, by 2026 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will be commonplace and essential in the workplace, and that humans will be working alongside robots.

Source: IDG Connect