‘Work no longer where the office is’

Businesswoman on laptop in video call at home

Business woman having a video call with coworker, working online from home at cozy atmosphere. Concept of remote work from home

By 2015 around 40% of the workforce will be mobile, according to a new white paper, ‘The Future of Work’.

Commissioned by Esselte Corporation to mark its 100-year anniversary, the paper looks at the current and future world of work highlighting the key changes both employees and companies are going to have to adapt to.

Co-author Richard Watson of Futures House Europe says: “As a result of the internet, new technologies, the huge increase in mobile or home working, part-time jobs and today’s ‘always on’, 24/7 culture, we found that most people now spend more time working than sleeping. In fact by 2015 around 40% of the total workforce will be mobile – because work is no longer where the office is. For mobile workers work is wherever they are – be that their car, home, coffee shop, the airport, customer site or even on holiday. This is just one area our report identifies as having a massive impact on the way we work.”

Other factors covered in the paper, which is also written by Andrew Crosthwaite, include:

– Ageing workforces: By 2050 it predicts over 65s will represent around 50% of the working population in Europe. It says countries will have to let (or make) people work longer, incentivise birth rates, relax immigration policies and/or increase productivity to meet demand for workers. This will mean an increase in part timers. It says in Europe part time jobs now account for 20-25% of jobs – as a result of ageing workers, women in the workforce and cost-cutting by companies to have a proportion of workers on shorter contracts.

– Millennials and Gen Y. The report says they are more tech-savvy than any other generation and their values, ambitions and approach to work is very different to their predecessors. By 2020, companies will have to be multi-generational, multi cultural and able adapt to people wanting to stay employed/have gaps and/or extend their careers indefinitely, it says.

– The generation gap. The report says millennials think senior management do not relate to them and use autocratic command and control structures. They want to work in collaborative, teamwork-based management groups for companies doing something they believe in. It says different generations need to work closer and respect each other’s talents.

– Gender.The report says organisations need to tackle the huge economic impact of getting more women in the workforce especially at senior levels. It states that eliminating the gap between male and female employment would boost GDP by 9% in US, 13% in Eurozone and 16% in Japan (Goldman Sachs) and adds that Fortune 500 companies with three or more women directors outperform those with none by a 46% margin in return on investment.

– Mobile working. It predicts that by 2015 new technologies mean 1.3 billion (or 40%) of the total working population will be mobile. Today mobile workers carry around 3.5 mobile devices, but going forward this may reduce to one as The Cloud becomes a storage system and a virtual hub for all the company’s’ mobile semi-structured workforce, says the report. “Mobile workers tend to multi-task and work more hours. A quarter say they work 15-20 hours extra a week because technology enables (or forces) them to do so. Also as the margins between work and personal life blur about 35% of people also work at weekends – usually without any payment potentially creating stress and burn-out,” it states.

– Security of Information. The report predicts organisations of the future will be more fluid with fewer full-time employees and that talent will be imported as needed and resource coordinators will put together best teams for particular projects from inside and outside the organisation blending them and their equipment together. All will have their own devices and potentially work remotely creating huge security and data storage/retrieval challenges, it says.

The report says talent scarcities worldwide mean that by 2030 the USA will need to add over 25 million workers to its talent base to sustain economic growth and Western Europe more than 45 million. Employees will see themselves as ‘brands’ whose marketing they have sole control over. The portfolio career as envisaged by Charles Handy will be the norm, says the report.

The overall conclusions of the report suggest that the traditional office is dying and will only remain relevant where security concerns or face to face presence is paramount. Similarly, the future structure of work is going to have to change to make access to information and its retrieval, much simpler and faster. It says: “We will all become mobile workers and the office will be more of a chameleon hub or meeting place. Often you will just send a hologram in your place to meetings and your office will never be at a permanent address. It will be a full-service ‘pop-up’ appearing as needed in whatever country or city a particular project is required. We will work in collaborative teams with both colleagues and customers and as companies will partner with like-minded organisations for strategic mutual benefit.”

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