What Does the Future Workplace Look Like?


I have an admission to make.  I am fascinated by the question:

What will our workplaces look like in 20 years’ time?

Think about some of the job functions that existed 50, 30 or 20 years ago and how some of them have simply disappeared.  So what are we doing today that we won’t be doing in the future?  Put aside those jobs that will leave our shores and abandon us only to pop up in other countries, creating and helping to develop our global commercial market.  I am talking about those jobs that simply disappear due to the evolution in technology or as a consequence of social, political and environmental shifts.

When I first commenced my working life, there was a lot of talk about computers but it was almost ‘science fiction’ to consider the impact that they would make.  No one I knew back then owned a computer (yes I am that old – another confession); mobile phones only existed in Dick Tracy cartoons and video telephone calling was limited to the imagination of the animators who created the Jetsons!

As I recall the businesses that I worked for during the first 10 or so years of my working life, none of them had either a computer or any plans to go “computerized.”  The concept was foreign and only to be seen in science and futuristic movies and books.

One of the strategic tasks that my profession of Human Resource Management is called upon to do is “workforce planning”.  Now this is usually about taking a business’ strategic projection and planning out the capabilities and requirements that the business will require to achieve their goals and objectives through labour and skills forecasting.  I believe that we have a greater challenge however and that is to research and predict the needs for business in 10 or 20 years’ time.

I don’t profess to have all the answers but I do have an awful lot of questions.  Here are just a few:

  • As it is inevitable that technology will continue to develop at even greater speed than it has over the past 40 years, how will that impact upon business?
  • As it is inevitable that some jobs will leave our shores, how will we replace them?
  • What are we doing to re-skill those people whose jobs will either migrate or just disappear?
  • Do we have room in our museums to “capture” skills from the past so that may reminisce about the “good old days.”
  • As it is inevitable that Australian demographics will continue its shifting patterns, what affect will that have on businesses being able to source skilled workers?
  • What will be required in infrastructure to accommodate “the commute” and when will the Government start incentivising businesses to provide work-from home options to reduce the escalating costs of building roads and transport systems?
  • What about the aging workforce issue – how will we fill jobs when the percentage of the population due to retire is greater than the population entering the workforce?
  • And what of our educational planning – how well equipped are our schools and universities to know what courses, degrees and skills will be required for jobs that we can only imagine will exist.

So you see I actually have a lot more questions than answers!  So it will be my endeavour as time permits, to research and study the workplace of the future and publish articles as news finds its way to me.

If by chance you have found your way to this little pondering, please feel free to do one or both of the following:

  1. Please let me know of articles, research and information that you find that will assist with future articles related to the workplace or workforce of the future
  2. Complete the “connect” registration on this website and I will let you know from time to time about new articles being published
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