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What's next in Flexibility?

Predictions from January 2010 for the year and for the decade

2010 - The Year of Flexible Working

The new decade has started with a lot of discussion about and enthusiasm for flexible working - stimulated by snow, public pronouncements and by companies reacting to the current economic climate.

But beyond the talk, what is going to happen?  These are our predictions for the coming year - and then for the coming decade:


Prediction from January 2010 One year on
  • The trend to office consolidation continues.  More employers send their staff home to increase efficiency - and save on office costs
It's happening - but more on squeezing space than sending staff home
  • There will be the start of a big property-reduction programme in the public sector - whoever wins the election
Underway - and lots more to come in 2011
  • There'll be a significant increase in new home-based businesses and free-lancing, which will continue beyond the recession
It's happening (see article, and we wait for full 2010 stats
  • Desktop videoconferencing will become commonplace (we've made this prediction every year since 1997... but this time it will be right!)
Not yet!
  • After the 2010 election the Prime Minister will be a home-based worker.  His next-door neighbour will be too
True on both counts!

From now until 2020

  • Another homeworker, the President of the USA, will have a difficult year. Or two.  There'll be at least one new president this decade.  She'll be a homeworker too.
  • Towards the middle of the decade, computers you can talk to - and significantly, who can spell what you're saying - will start finding their way into offices, engendering a move away from open-plan and back to cellular offices
  • Most desktop videoconferencing kit in offices will fall into disuse by 2015.  People will wonder why they ever wanted to look at each other when they're talking on the phone.
  • The first webcam-enabled sexual harassment offence involving a homeworking boss will come before a court
  • Retirement rules will change to allow phased retirement without financial penalty
  • New rules - and or discrimination cases - will compel employers to offer many more jobs on a flexible working basis
  • By 2020, 60% of employees will use at least one kind of flexible working.  20% of the workforce will work most of the time at/from home
  • Environmentalists finally change tack away from greening the office.  Maximum BREEAM rating can now be earned by not having an office.
  • Neighbourhood work hubs, with local councils as anchor tenants, will start to emerge
  • 3D business applications come onto the market, along with much more immersive telepresence meetings
  • ... but the biggest-selling application is a Princess Lea 'screensaver' that hops around the desk, arguably violating clear desk policies.
  • Finally, in 2020, broadband reaches rural Britain.  But no application can operate on the bandwidth that eventually arrives.

In 2020, Flexibility will be in its 27th year.  Unless, by then, we're not needed any more as the whole world goes flexible.  A long shot, perhaps.


January 2010, revised January 2011


Do you have any predictions?

If you can foresee any great changes coming in the world of work this decade, send them in to us.

We'll publish the best of them.




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