Jo Geraghty


The future is all around us

Date added: 10th Nov 2014
Category: Employee Engagement

A recent CBRE report says, “The ideas, trends, and behaviours that will shape work and workplace in 2030 are already perceptible today.” We examine a few of those drivers.

The CBRE & Genesis report ‘Fast Forward 2030: the future of work and the workplace’ has generated instant headlines; not the least for the statement that “50% of occupations today will no longer exist in 2030.”  Whilst the headline may be attention grabbing the sentiment behind it is no more and no less than an acknowledgement of the logical consequences of the technology revolution.

As the CBRE report says, “The ideas, trends, and behaviours that will shape work and workplace in 2030 are already perceptible today.”  Let’s just pick out a few of those drivers:

  • Technology.  When we view the pace of technological change we tend to think in terms of internet or smart phones, of new IT programmes or extra gadgets in our cars.  Unless we work directly with them, breakthroughs such as 3D printers or robot assistants are seen at best as an inconsequential amusements and certainly not something which will impinge directly on our lives.

But delve deeper into the implications of technology and a far more profound effect starts to emerge.  We may laugh at the ‘computer says no’ attitude of some businesses but we have all experienced the effects of call centre operatives following a script.  How much longer before we do away with the people and leave the entire dialogue to computers.  Devolving the more routine tasks to artificial intelligences frees up people to create and to craft.

As the report suggests, the consequence of this is a complete resetting of workplaces. Out go rows of desks and in comes creative spaces; areas designed for Activity Based Working, which lend themselves to quiet contemplation or to group creation.  But why work in an office at all?  Technology is already at a point at which the workspace is not longer bounded by physical walls.  Holograms, instant communication, sharing files across continents; this article could equally be typed in an office or dictated at the top of a mountain directly into this website and the result would be the same.


  • The recession.  Battling through the recession the headlines centred on lack of finance, job cuts and business closures.  But bubbling away beneath the surface was a quiet revolution, born out of a growing awareness of the disconnect between business and customers.  The result is a customer base which is looking for something more, to be involved in the business and the creation of products and which looks for business to drop short term profits in favour of long term stability and growth.

Reflecting this mood the regulators are not far behind, looking for high levels of customer care alongside investor transparency.

  • Generational change. Those who have grown up with fast connectivity have a completely different world view from those who have gone before.  When global is on your doorstep then there is an increasing drive to connect with a local culture.  At the same time, younger workers are not prepared to accept the work time/home time demarcation lines which have been the staple of organisational culture for so long.  In fact 85% of those interviewed for the survey believe that by 2030 work and home life will become more enmeshed.

Even more interesting is that comment in the report that work will increasingly become a consumer experience.  People won’t work for a company they will choose to work with a company.

All of these changes, and more, add up to one simple fact: organisations will have to profoundly change their culture, if they haven’t already done so.  Relationships with customers, with suppliers, with investors and with the outside world all have to change on a fundamental level.  Whether a full 50% of task based jobs will have gone by 2030 is up for debate but what will replace those jobs are free-wheeling, interactive, creative and fulfilling roles which will change the face of work in a way which has not been seen since the industrial revolution.

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