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The Workforce in 2036

Fewer offices, fewer shops, more homeworking and a continuous need to update skills

What do employees expect the world of work to be like in 2036?

According to a survey by recruitment specialists Office Angels, it’s expected that by 2036 millions of employees will work from home or other remote locations - dealing with co-workers, customers and suppliers via computers and video phones.

Almost three quarters (71%) of workers believe that an increasing number of people will work from home in 2036, thanks to new technologies such as cloud computing, smart phones and video conferencing. A quarter think that the office will no longer exist.

And it will be goodbye to the 9 to 5. Working routines are predicted to change dramatically; almost two thirds (65%) of employees believe that working hours will become far more flexible and over half (53%) predict that standard working hours will be a thing of the past altogether.

The survey also shows that workers expect job shares and multiple careers to be commonplace by 2036.

Over a third of employees (36%) expect more people to job share in 2036, leading to increased freedom in working hours, whether through flexi-time, term-time, or part-time working. Almost half of workers (48%) predict that “jobs for life” will be a thing of the past; workers will have a series of careers, with new skills being learnt on a continual basis

This has huge implications for employers, in terms of managing a disparate workforce and in maintaining levels of engagement with staff.  And issues around communication and maintaining corporate and team identity are flagged up as potential concerns.

Almost half (48%) of employees surveyed predict that employees will have to work through the night, thanks to an increase in working across global markets. While this will present challenges for both employers and employees, this new flexibility in working hours may well have significant advantages for those currently struggling to balance family responsibilities with those of their job.

Some workers (35%) predict that this ‘always on’ working culture will lead to increased levels of stress, with longer working hours and the constant accessibility afforded by new communication devices, like smart phones, leading to heightened pressure and tighter deadlines.

Language skills are also in the spotlight as, despite 49% of employees predicting that English will remain the universal language for business, 46% believe that in the next 25 years, workers will have to speak another language - and it’s likely to be Mandarin Chinese.

69% of workers also think that people will interact more with technology than they will with each other, due to the predicted dominance of remote working on a global scale - with 39% worrying that this will remove any opportunity for colleagues to learn from one another. And it will also lead to the end of office parties and office romance or affairs. But possibly a chance to get to know the neighbours better?

A quarter (25%) of people are convinced that retail will move entirely online - negating the need for the millions of sales staff, merchandisers and managers currently employed by this ever-adapting industry - and 55% predict that manufacturing jobs will be cut, as machines fulfil more tasks than ever before.

Plenty of food for thought here, and a need for managers to develop new strategies for attracting and retaining talent, engaging employees and keeping teams happily working together.


 December 2011


Further information

We feature here new research from Office Angels, the office recruitment agency, which it undertook as a way to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The study explores the likely evolution of working practices and culture within the UK over the next 25 years.

We have just some highlights here.  There's more on the Office Angels website, where there are 5 short reports linked with ideas as to how employers should respond:

Go to Future of Working: 2036






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