About the same time as I was pulling together my post for yesterday about the most significant workplace changes in the last 15 years, a post came out on Baseline about Why the Traditional Office Will Survive. What I found interesting about the article was that in most cases the majority of the statistics didn’t actually support the traditional office environment. A bit strange for an article with that title. I do have to agree that face-to-face interaction is more effective (and more fun) than droning away at a home office on a conference call.
So to take the thread started yesterday to another level the next question is:
”What are the most dramatic game-changing innovations or trends coming in the future with regard to the Workforce, Work Styles, Technology and the Workplace?”
Some of the most impactful changes are more of a side effect of innovations than innovations themselves. For example the energy discovery shift that will likely push off the date of peak-oil (at least for the US). This energy abundance when compared to other regions has implications on where work will be performed as much as on how. If the energy is local, it is likely the skills will be developed locally to reduce non-value added transportation costs.
The same could be said about water. Fresh water is becoming a scarce resource that will shift where and how work is done. Innovations in fresh water production will have long range impact on a global scale.
From a technical innovation perspective there is the increased use of automation. We now have the analytic capabilities to recognize context in content to some extent. We can find answers proactively or reactively. We can recognize when something is normal and should soon be able to act upon “normal” and draw attention to the anomalies to use the scarce resources that is human attention more effectively. Once we have a viable voice and gesture interface, the doors will open to applications that are beyond the specialized interface compromises that are used today. We have an abundance of computing capabilities that can be applied to address this space.
Nano and Bio technology are two areas where there is an abundance of innovative work that is fundamental in nature and likely to shift the workplace as well. As people live longer (one of the megatrends), their needs will change and their time in the workforce will increase. Both of these technologies have significant roles to play, to make us happier, heather and productive – living instead of just existing longer. One of the nice things about nanotechnology is it take less resources and many times less energy and yet can be customized to meet specific needs. The great think about biotech is it can take medicine to a whole new level of personalization.
It is at the interplay between abundance and scarcity where we will find those innovations that will shift the workplace.