Office of the future circa 2020

Office of the future circa 2020

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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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...

Topic: Microsoft

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    neilscool11
  • Doens't offer much?

    More like doesn't offer anything. Sorry but a 12 year oild could make these predictions with the same probability of being accurate.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • I think that is off the mark

    While you are right that convergence will occurr and telecommuting will increase (though one needs the right mentality to do it), I think people will at first move toward working more, but at a point workers will learn to appreciate personal time and learn to leave the cell at home and enjoy life. I learned after my first three years working, if i'm not getting paid extra to carry my cell phone at night and on weekends, leave it home. I enjoy life more as a result.
    jfp
  • Predictions With Analysis

    There's an old saying in ICT Marketing: People always overestimate what can be done in two years, while simultaneously underestimating what can be done in five. It's most often used as a cautionary note to someone about to do something like over-hype a version 2. But taking that as my measure what happens if I run this rule over these predictions?

    87 per cent of respondents believe that telecommuting will increase in the coming decade. Dan asked: 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? Reality check: Who in their right mind goes to a spa to work? If I go to a spa, or a park, or a golf course, work is the last thing on my mind - for a very good reason. I love my work, and, one of the reasons I love it is that I can drop it sometimes.

    42 per cent believe employees will be working more hours. Dan extrapolated: If you are always connected ... 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. Reality check: YOU will not have much of a life outside work. I know where the off switch is.

    Dan expands this theme: The pace of modern business ... 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 ... workers having more control over their schedules ... The line between work and play is blurring... Reality check: If you are always 'in' your boss has full control over your schedule, not you. How is play, well, play, if it is mixed with work? My reading of this statistic is; People will become increasingly frustrated at their inability to find true time oasis - for their families, friends and, most important (and most often overlooked today) ourselves. By 2020 this will have become a social problem with a name (something like Social Time Deprivation (STD) - perhaps not that name exactly...). Like all recognizable anti-social trends it will generate a reaction and employees will begin looking for employers that guarantee a quality of time off ['off-Net' periods] - either fixed blocks per day, or week, or minimum numbers of hours per month.

    More reality: Also, the First World will increasingly adopt the German approach; If you didn't finish the job 9-to-5 then you didn't do the job right. This sounds hard on the individual employee until you realise that what they mean by this is that the job may not have been defined properly, or the worker wasn't provided with the right support. In other words, work packages will increasingly be better defined - pressure will be reflected back onto management to get their part of the equation right first time. I am aware that, as I write, the German economy is going through a rough old time. However, this particular maxim was learned by me during a period when West Germany (as was) was a byeword for efficiency and productivity.

    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. Reality check: By 2020 the first social and mental health studies into 'Presenteeism on Holiday' will have been released. They will confirm what we will all have been telling each other for the last ten years, but which has been denied by major employers; Working on holiday damages your health, and your family. There will be no direct cost savings from getting people to work on holiday - but companies will plead that there are big indirect benefits in terms of consistency. Sociologists will be asked to find a solution, and by 2025 the first widely recognised solutions will emerge:
    - Job Sharing;
    - Employing more people;
    - More part time working contracts;
    - More flexible hours working contracts;
    - etc.
    Note: No rocket scientist required.

    I don't have a reality check for the report's point on emotional intelligence, or Dan's take on hardware devices - they both seemed pretty obvious to me.

    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...

    Reality check: They would be the same offices that no-one is spending any time in (in 2020)? As anyone who has seen a company that takes mobile/flexible working seriously today will know, offices will remain vital for plugging back in something that is lost by using a fully mobile workforce - team spirit. By 2020 employees will have wised up to this too - and will be checking the location of their prospective employer's 'Drop-In' Centers. Some of these will not be like the office we know today - they will be outsourced arrangements with Coffee Shop chains, or parks, or an owner of a string of beach huts. But the time spent there, on the company, will be strictly set aside for work.
    Stephen Wheeler