Peering into the future, OfficeTeam, a staffing service for administrative professionals, published its research--"Office of the Future: 2020"--which doesn't offer much beyond the obvious predictions. The report predicts that the future office will be "increasingly mobile and flexible as companies swiftly assemble the resources necessary to meet changing business needs. Core teams will manage employees working from diverse locations — from home offices to temporary business spaces to cafés." We are already seeing the impact of wireless networks and communications tools on the workforce.
Among the other findings in the survey of business and technology executives:
87 percent of respondents believe that telecommuting will increase in the coming decade. Who wants to be in traffic when the technology and economics allow you to work and increase productivity from the comfort of home, a branch office or a spa? .
42 percent believe employees will be working more hours. If you are always connected, you can't easily get away from work. The good part is that you can stay in close touch, fine tuning the business, and the bad, of course, is that you won't have much of a life outside of work. The pace of modern business, enabled by advanced communications, and the increased ability to have your hands on the controls from anywhere means that work and play must flow in and out of one another. The report points out that workers having more control over their schedules will help them balance priorities more effectively. The line between work and play is blurring--which has been the norm today in Silicon Valley for decades--and the ability to multitask will become a necessary survival skill, the report said.
Related to working more hours, 86 percent of respondents believe that employees will be expected to stay more connected with the office while on vacation. With global high bandwidth communications and access to corporate data anywhere, anytime, you can't hide. It's just too easy to stay connected.
The report also noted that emotional intelligence--will is defined as "those skills and abilities that enable people to interact well with those around them, respond to others' needs and priorities, and adapt to a rapidly changing business environment"--will be critical. In other words, the socially inept, insensitive and inflexible workers will not succeed in the hyper-connected world of business.
The functions of multiple pieces of hardware — such as personal computer, phone, fax, scanner, electronic organizer or camera — into a single convenient device. No surprise in that prediction, although cramming it all into one device won't satisfy every user need.
A final prediction from the report: By the year 2020, offices are expected to be embedded with sensors or "motes" that monitor and maintain the environment — including temperature, humidity and lighting — and respond to users' needs. (For example, a mote in your chair could detect tension in your body and signal the chair to give you a back massage.) And, it will inject you with the proper drugs and nutritional supplements when it detects changes in vital biological signs. I'll prefer the plain old fashioned chair without the tension taming mechanics...