The design of work – from how we meet the needs of our customers to how we communicate internally to the way our work space is designed – is changing. The workplace of 2025 will look much different than the workplace of today.
Here are my top three prognostications for what the future of work holds.
1. Move over, Millennials.
In 2020 Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce and by 2025 that number will be 75%. Close on their heels are Gen Z, or those born in 1997 and later. These digital natives think differently about work than their predecessors. They were raised using technology to communicate. They were raised on an strange cocktail of autonomy and oversight (think: plans a $3000 family vacation at age 12; parent drops off forgotten items at school at age 16). They demand a larger purpose in their work, like the Millennials. And they will demand even more flexibility in how work is structured.
- Where they work (office, home, coffee shop, mountain top).
- When they work (Nine to five? Nah. Work and non-work activities will be far more blended.)
- How they work.
2. Hollywood, here we come.
Often dubbed “The Hollywood Model” where experts come together for duration of the project and then go their separate ways, project-based work will thrive as a business structure. The entrepreneurial trend that lends Uber and Fivrr success today, creates an autonomous work environment where people come together to share what they do best for the people and places who need it and will pay for it. Project-based work already exists to a large extent within organizational walls, with people coming together for the weeks, months or years it takes to complete the project. By 2025, however, this trend will reach far beyond corporate walls with experts for hire coming together to do the strategic work of organizations, not just give rides to the airport.
3. Work environments get wilder still, then stabilize.
Today we see organizations quick to implement the “open-office” concept, only to reverse it several years later, putting the cubicle walls back up. The next several years will continue to see wild fluctuations in how organizations build out their space: hoteling, pods and bullpens, off-site co-working, work from home and more. By 2025, leadership will have developed the confidence to see that their organization and their people (and by extension, their culture) have their own distinct needs. They will collaborate with their people to intentionally design spaces and places that best support their functional work, with an eye toward when to collaborate and when to have quiet time for deep, thoughtful work.