As usual at this time of year, we've been peering
at the tea leaves, examining the runes, and
scattering the bones. Here are our own
Top Twelve predictions for the coming year, for the future
workforce, future working practices, and the
changing shape of work.
- Apple will scale down its plans for their new
self-indulgent status HQ, as costs spiral
out of control. And they will discover that people
can actually collaborate and innovate when they are
not locked in the same building. E.g. by using
new-fangled technologies like iPhones, iPads and
MacBooks. Funny that.
- There will be a
strong focus on ergonomics and acoustics in the
modern smart office, with new products and
techniques coming to the fore.
This will in part be
necessary as new entrants enter the workforce
already suffering from RSI, terrible posture and
tinnitus from their use of high tech devices since
- The first business lounge-style government
workhub shared by all central government departments
(and maybe a local council or two) will move beyond
the drawing board around October in the UK. By the following
year we’ll be wondering why it’s only shared between
government departments, and not shared with everyone
- Meanwhile the workhub/coworking explosion will
continue, with many new entrants to the market.
Expect one in a High Street near you soon, and many
more at airports, service stations etc. Some new
coworking chains will appear. Expect a major shakeup
in the sector in 2017-18 as the weaker / poorly
located ones collapse and the industry consolidates
around stronger business models.
- As the European Union goes through another series
of existential crises, almost unnoticed will be the
beginning of efficiency measures in the bureaucracy,
and the tentative introduction of genuine Smart Working in
- Yahoo will reinstitute a telework programme, by a
different name, but commentators will continue to
write opinion pieces about Melissa Meyer and the
‘backlash against flexible working’. Will normality
- A Middle Eastern nation will launch a major
initiative around flexible working. This will
unleash a wealth of additional talent and energy
into the workforce from a highly educated yet
generally under-utilised section of the workforce –
the women of the country. The long-term impacts of
this will be far-reaching.
- There will be an avalanche of new apps based
around mobile shared purchasing. I won’t understand
any of them, but others will and it will become a
massive market. By adaptation shared purchasing of
facilities-as-needed will boost the concept of
‘workplace as a service’.
- Business social media will take further big
strides forward, and some of it will be useful.
- Intelligent walls and partitions with embedded
interactive screens and AI-enabled
worker-recognition will start to feature in
workplace design by the end of the year.
- By the end of the year we’ll be talking
about the “Robotics Divide” -
between those who are using, building or
customising robotic tools, and those who think
this will happen in a galaxy far, far away.
- Meanwhile, there’ll be a rearguard action by lost
souls trying to resurrect their personalised desk or
cubicle – expect a glut of nostalgia articles for
the territorial office and the productivity value of
surrounding yourself with cascades of your own junk.
We can check how accurate this is at the end of
Happy New Year!