How will our working lives change in the next 10 years? Here’s what flexible working experts think may happen…
The way we work is evolving. In recent years, a shift in attitudes has seen employers try to find more flexible – and ultimately more productive – alternatives to traditional work; offering employees increased autonomy, split parental leave and a greater investment in both their job and life outside of the 9 to 5.
But as these new concepts in workplace wisdom slowly begin to take shape, we asked three experts to look to the future, offering up some opinions on how work will change in the next 20 years.
Our experts suggest that, in the not-too-distant future…
Work will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 10 years
Employees will be able to choose when and where they work
Empowered workers will feel like entrepreneurs within their company
Offices will become very different environments
Robots, computers and machines will play an even greater role
It’s shifting mindsets and putting humans above business
Judy Goldberg, a workplace guru and founder of Wondershift thinks work hours will become more flexible. “I think there will be more structured and automated reporting mechanisms that may remove the typical management hierarchy. Employees will be able to choose their optimal work times, which will maximise productivity and employee engagement.“
Rachel Mostyn, the Co-Head of Storytelling at Digital Mums is also an advocate for flexible working. “We live in a world where we have technology that means we no longer need to be chained to a desk during the working week. Instead I hope work will be seen as a thing you do – rather than a specific place you go to.”
“With campaigns like our #WorkThatWorks Movement I’m convinced flexible working will no longer be seen as a perk for the lucky few – but rather something that everyone has in their lives and is a positive for employers AND employees.”
Anna Whitehouse, journalist, author and founder of Mother Pukkaagrees. “We’ve started a campaign called #FlexAppeal. It’s about unshackling people – and I mean everyone, not just parents – from the restrictive 9-5. I say ‘restrictive’ from a business perspective, not necessarily an employee perspective. It’s shifting mindsets and putting humans above business, but for business benefit – that’s key because if businesses give a little then they get back a lot. It’s about empowering people and making them feel like they are almost entrepreneurs within your company.”
“I hope to see the working world move towards viewing people as individuals, and the way they work is unique to them.”
Productivity will evolve while we are sleeping
ESCAPING THE OFFICE
Technology and productivity will work hand-in-hand, explains Mostyn. “At Digital Mums we rely on products like Trello and Slack to keep our teams close – and it really works! Within our team only 14% of employees are full-time and office based; 86% work part-time and remotely and 17% never step foot in the office.”
Looking beyond current technology, Goldberg sees every aspect of our working life altering, “…from floor and seating design, to building structure, the types of desks people use, even the coffees, teas and snacks available. Collaborative workspaces are trending and soon we will begin to see more of a mixed workplace, which combines various businesses into one space – to create innovative cross industry solutions.”
“Productivity will evolve while we are sleeping because computers, machines, and robots are going to be able to spit out things faster than any human. But this is something to embrace, not push away.”
There are some great things already happening in the workplace
PUTTING HEADS TOGETHER
The shifting landscape of work is something which our experts are already seeing happen, as Whitehouse explains. “I think that instead of something like job sharing – for example – which is seen as negative, we’re moving towards the idea of job pairing. You’re not cutting the job in half because of people’s personal circumstances, you’re putting two brilliant minds together and making the role work harder for your business”.
“Our research shows there’s a huge appetite for flexible working” says Mostyn. “75% of 18-24-year-olds currently not working are more likely to apply for a job with flexible hours over a standard job.“
Mostyn also thinks we need to see an end to ‘presenteeism culture’ – the idea that employees stay at their place of work for longer than is necessary. “It’s time to close the door on the old-fashioned view that flexible working means you might be bunking off,” she says.
The sentiment is echoed by Whitehouse. “When you’re looking at the future of productivity over a ‘bums on seats’ mentality, you need to look at what that employee is actually achieving – not where they’re sitting when they work.”
We need to take part in activities that involve risk
It’s this freedom to work wherever and whenever that will increase productivity, but as a workforce we’ll need to make a cognitive shift too, explains Goldberg. “In [landmark 2016 book on management] Neuroscience For Leadership, it states that there is going to be more change in the next 10 years than there has been in our lives already. To be competitive we, as humans, will need the best brains – to achieve that I have learned we need play that engages the prefrontal cortex. So, take field trips to new places, gain different viewpoints and take part in activities that involve risk – these experiences will trigger reasoning and imagination – and if we can get this blend in the workplace, and for our employees across the globe, then anything is possible.”