5 Predictions About the Future of Work


I always loved the Jetsons. Who didn’t love the thought of flying cars, robot maids and cool futuristic outfits like Judy’s?

I admit when I watched the Jetsons I wasn’t paying much attention to where the characters worked or what happened when they got there. But today, I am totally fascinated by predictions about the future of work.

Will we all work from home and go to virtual meetings with our colleagues in Second Life?

Will I be able to give speeches virtually, with a holographic image of me (a la CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during the 2008 presidential election) standing behind a holograph of a podium?

Will people have robot assistants?

To help my thinking and yours on this topic, I’ve been doing a lot of research that I want to share with you today. Here are some of the most compelling career and workplace predictions I’ve come across. It’s never too early to start thinking about how these trends will impact your own career:

5 Future Workplace and Career Trends

OFFICE TEAM: More than 100 million people are expected to telecommute to work by the year 2015. This sounds accurate to me. With an increase in contract workers, freelancers, working parents and caretakers of elderly relatives, it makes sense that we’ll increasingly work from everywhere except an office.

No business travel. 3D virtual reality meetings will all but eliminate business travel. There’ll be no snail mail. The postal service will be privatized and compete directly with FedEx and UPS, but only for shipping; mailing documents will be unnecessary. Beaming technology could change everything, if and when. People will have cyber-implants for telecommunications and video display.

Sarah Sladek: I also believe our workplaces will become even more health-focused with walking workstations and environmentally-friendly practices.

Tammy Erickson: Two-job norm — More people will maintain two sources of income than ever before. Instead of relying on the onetime holy grail of employment — a salaried job with full benefits — workers will create a series of backup options. For many, especially those in creative or knowledge-based work, this is likely to include becoming entrepreneurs. A second job or even a small entrepreneurial venture provides a safety net, giving workers a small measure of control over their fate in an increasingly unstable environment.

Office TeaM To remain marketable, workers will have to make education a lifelong priority, continually upgrading their skills. I agree here as well. I can see people having a lifelong relationship with their college or university, not just returning for reunions but also for more education. My hunch is that the majority of this will take place through online learning. In fact, IBM is supporting its workers in this effort by matching them dollar-for-dollar in their educational pursuits, even if an employee is educating himself or herself to a job outside of IBM.

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