Crystal ball time! What will work look like in 2040? Nikolas Kairinos is looking forward.
Office workers will look back at 2020 as something of a tipping point in the world of work. Largely, throughout this period, workers have proved to their employers that they could work from home with minimal disruption to their day to day.
For some time now, we have also been told that hybrid work will become the norm for organisations in the immediate future. But what does the future hold for the office in the coming decade or two?
Right now, employees might fear the worst. Given that a staggering 72% of Americans are worried about a future where machines can increasingly perform ‘human’ tasks, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) will naturally sound alarm bells.
That said, the prospect of robots taking our jobs is a classic automation trope, and although this fear might be infectious, I would argue quite the contrary – that increased automation and AI-bolstered tech will expand the scope of opportunities offered to professionals.
Next-gen tech will make way for a more connected workforce
It’s fair to say that offices are good for some things – for example, the so-called ‘network effect’ that unfolds in co-working environments, allowing chance encounters to occur as we bump into colleagues and share our thoughts casually.
The employees of tomorrow will have hyper-personalised curricula at their fingertips, based upon an evolving set of personal and corporate needs.
Despite the fact some of our best ‘Aha!’ moments happen during these unplanned run-ins, at the moment, these opportunities are difficult to re-create in virtual settings. After all, a calendar packed full of scheduled meetings is hardly an appropriate backdrop for spontaneity.
That’s why in the future, we can expect augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) to be welcomed into the fold by organisations big and small. In a world where colleagues are still likely to be scattered around different cities, these technologies will allow co-workers to inhabit the same virtual environment, even if they are physically poles apart.
Businesses will be able to replicate office settings, lobbies, and collaboration hubs for members of staff to exchange ideas, without running the risk of burn-out or needing to dedicate surplus energy to counter the difficulties that naturally come with communicating solely ‘through a screen’, so to speak.
All that staff will need to do, is pop on a pair of VR glasses to re-locate themselves to these innovation hubs, so that they can converse with a colleague from any area of the business, which will in turn allow organisations to keep pushing the innovation needle forward.
Wave farewell to forgetting
Picture this: you’re a sales executive due to deliver a pitch to a potential new client first thing in the morning. While you’re on your way to meet the client, your brain goes blank. You can’t remember any of the product’s USPs, and you are a little bit hazy on the numbers.
This is a nerve-wracking situation, and one that most of us have experienced at some point in our professional lives. The truth is, that no matter how hard we try to retain information, the human brain is fallible, and sometimes we just simply forget things, or come up against memory blocks.
In the future, though, this won’t be an issue. In the years to come, expect employees to be harnessed with intelligent devices and personal assistants that account for these fallibilities, providing us with important memory aids when we require them, as well as consistent opportunities to learn on the road.
In fact, certain iterations of software will be able to do this imminently. Take the aforementioned scenario for example – if a worker was feeling stressed about the meeting ahead, and felt like they would benefit from a last-minute run through of a product’s USPs, all they would need to do is ask their handy assistant to provide a point-by-point summary to feel more prepared.
On a larger scale, this means that lifelong learning will become more of a priority in the workplace, replacing the current one-off, yearly training schemes that offer a blanket approach to learning. Instead, the employees of tomorrow will have hyper-personalised curricula at their fingertips, based upon an evolving set of personal and corporate needs.
They will be able to call upon their AI-powered devices to stay up to date with all the business-critical information they need for their roles, and revert to their digital assistants any time they want a refresher on the topic or are confused about a new concept.
Ultimately, imagining what the workplace of the future will look like, should be an incredibly exciting prospect for both employees and organisations alike – and not something that should be feared. With any luck, as businesses start investing in a set of increasingly new and novel solutions, the modern worker will be better equipped to take on the working day and reach their full potential.
About the author
Nikolas Kairinos is CEO of Soffos.ai