By 2040, employees will decide where and how they want to work, according to The Smart Workplace 2040 report commissioned by Johnson Controls. The report claimed that around 20 years from now, work will be seen as something workers do, rather than a place to which they commute. Meanwhile, work patterns will be radically different as a new generation of what it terms ‘workspace consumers’ choose their time and place of work.
The Smart Workplace 2040 report was peer-reviewed in a series of three workshops in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific involving 26 workplace experts. It explores the workplace of the future through the eyes of Nina, a knowledge worker living in 2040. It describes how her working environment is split across her home, eco-campus in the city, and other working hubs to which she has access.
Nina has a ‘flexwork’ contract, meaning there is no limit to how little or how much she works as long as the work is done. Nina’s home is a hyper-connected, adaptive environment that responds to the family’s bio-health indicators. Nina’s house also has complex software applications that suggest what Nina should do to maximise performance.
Most workers will frequently work and network with others. There will be no set hours and the emphasis will be on getting work done, while other workers’ wellness will take a priority. Technology, at this rate, will bring together networks of individuals who operate in an entrepreneurial way, with collaboration the major driver of business performance.
The main characteristics of the workplace of the future described in the report are:
Numerous workplace reports predicted that by 2030, technology will transform the way we work. Since then there has been a significant acceleration in technological developments with the launch of the iPad, invasion of the first wearable technologies, and remote working becoming the norm. Johnson Controls report takes the vision of 2030 predictions further by reporting that 2040 will consume space, not own it. Johnson’s report envisions how this trend will affect the everyday life of an employee and businesses. The findings of the report have implications for leaders and real estate managers around the world as they anticipate the way our society and technology is changing, transforming the way we work.
Johnson made eight recommendations for businesses to adjust in order to survive future business and talent market predictions. The recommendations include dismantling fixed office hours model in favour of flexible working contracts, focusing workspaces on end users’ needs, and enhancing service delivery to embrace a high human touch while designing across teams. It also suggests organisational transformation to improve the way dispersed teams work together, as well as the integration of technologies to track activity, record experiences and respond to user demands.
Furthermore, technology will be super predominant in every aspect of both business and daily lives. The predicted turmoil of change that might happen through 2040, calls for a major transformation in society, organisation, and the way business leaders design and operate shared workplaces. The transformations of the 2040 work state will require HR and leaders:
Training and learning have become organisations’ programs for years to sustain continuous change and development of the world of work. Even during the pandemic crisis, learning and training still become critical for most organisations. In fact, Cornerstone People Research data showed that training has skyrocketed in the last several weeks as companies help their employees adapt to the new normal. There is also a spike in courses about stress management and working from home. This shows that rather than use learning to only meet compliance requirements, there is a bigger need which is to provide employees with more holistic learning to address all aspects of work-life, including to face the work of the future rapid changes. Learning has become an adaptability accelerator that HR and business leaders should not dismiss in their employee programs.
The emergence of a new world of work comes at a pivotal time for most companies. With already happening events of work acceleration and predictions of the future, employers are expected to be in a better position to help their business and people grow sustainably.