The “future of work” is, admittedly, a catch-all term. When people say the phrase, I interpret it as a way to describe trends we’ll see over the coming decades in how goods and services are delivered. When it’s time to sit down to get some work done in 2030 or 2040, what will it be like?
I wanted to hear what people thought the future of work would hold, so I asked our list of contributors for their top prediction. We got an amazing 263 responses, and have shared the 54 best below.
Future of work, defined
The ways in which labor will be delivered in 10-20 years
Future of work predictions
The undoing of today’s work tools
I wrote this piece, The Future Of Work Lies 12,000 Years Ago, to capture my thoughts on where work is headed. To me, the future of work removes all of the tools we’ve built for work over the previous few hundred years. The office goes away. Then the set schedules go away. Then the bosses go away.
In the future, we’ll work like we did when we were hunter-gatherers without the hardship.
That’s my personal contribution (Henry at Buildremote).
AI technology will automate the decision-making process and lead to better decisions and higher productivity gains for businesses. Creativity and critical thinking will be vital to take advantage of the current subforms of AI — Extended Reality (ER) and Augmented Reality (AR).
Thank you to David Morneau of Breeeze
AI is better at things that humans are bad at, like processing huge amounts of data and content (e.g. legal documents). The future of work will be about humans learning how to use AI to augment their work, rather than the doom and gloom predictions about robots replacing humans.
Thank you to Marina Vaamonde of HouseCashin
Artificial intelligence will mean employees will no longer need to visit hazardous environments because AI and robotics technology will take over those tasks. AI will increase the overall efficiency of work processes and decrease the likelihood of work-related injuries.
Thank you to William Donnelly of Lottie
Machines will increasingly take over cognitive tasks, leaving humans to focus on more creative and interpersonal activities.
Thank you to Isaac Robertson of Total Shape
Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and as time goes by, it will begin to make its presence felt in every industry and process. Remember when computers first made an entry, and people thought they would only be relegated to specific industries and niches? Well, it was only a matter of time before computers became indispensable. It will be the same with AI.
Thank you to Danielle Bedford of Coople
As long as we carefully steer innovation, AI and robotics will create jobs. Whether artificial intelligence will ascend to power is a hotly debated topic. I believe that future job shortages will be due to a lack of skills rather than a lack of employment.
Thank you to Edward Mellett of Wikijob
With the advent of AI-powered tools to handle scheduling, assigning work, tracking progress, and providing feedback, this will free up managers to focus on more strategic tasks and will allow businesses to reduce their staffing costs.
Thank you to Cody Crawford of Low Offset
Business travel decline
For every person who works from home half-time, a typical company can save about $11,000 a year. Many business executives are questioning the need for costly business trips that include hotel accommodations and per diem.
Thank you to Gerrid Smith of Joy Organics
Connecting outside the office
We have a fully remote/flexible workforce, and we intentionally schedule regular collaboration sessions where the focus is more on eating/celebrating together over any sort of business information exchange. We build the bonds of teamwork in person so we can work more effectively asynchronously on tasks.
Thank you to Dan Marks of Infusion
I believe that the future of work looks like a transition from an era of full-time, traditional jobs to an era where we are constantly learning, growing, and working on projects that we enjoy. In the future, we will also likely see increased automation and a change in our culture so that work is less about being restrained from 9 am to 5 pm and more about engaging in activities that we enjoy.
Thank you to Suresh Chaudhary of Suresh.tech
While a standard college degree will continue to be required in the coming years, more businesses may be prepared to accept alternative credentialing systems due to the decline in the popularity of traditional education. In the future, online learning will be the norm. Businesses may begin to prioritize experience and expertise competencies above academic credentials.
Thank you to Jeff K. Mains of Champion Leadership Group LLC
A traditional education can only take you so far. A greater emphasis will be put on constantly keeping up with new innovations in order to stay competitive in the market and with others in the workforce.
Thank you to Bill Lyons of Griffin Funding
It’s already clear that data science is having a huge impact on the way businesses operate, but I think it’s only the beginning. With so much information available about every part of a business’s operations or an employee’s performance, we’re going to see more and more ways in which our decision-making processes can be improved by using that data. In fact, I think at some point in the near future, it will be difficult for an individual to make any significant decision without taking into account a wide range of data sources.
Thank you to Ansar Hammad of Entire Looks
Businesses will delegate departments such as accounting and marketing to agencies and virtual assistants that are experienced in these sectors. Virtual assistants have already become very popular, and it won’t be long before they become the norm.
Thank you to Rodney Warner of Connective Web Design
Businesses with no solid digital work structure and presence won’t survive in the long-term. As digital transformation becomes more important, companies who are not willing to create and invest in their digital work structure (whether fully remote or hybrid) are setting themselves up for failure. This also goes for employees who don’t have the skills that enable them to work effectively within a remote or hybrid environment and lack digital literacy.
Thank you to James Crawford of Deal Drop
There’s a massive pool of talent that has previously been overlooked, forgotten about, or ignored, that now has the chance to work on a basis that suits their own personal circumstances. As long as companies make sure there is no bias between those working remotely and in-person. In terms of the opportunities and learning resources they offer, they can play an active part in helping to level up many sectors and provide a fairer world to work in.
Thank you to Nabila Salem of Revolent
Employee resource groups will become more common. A greater emphasis will be put on attracting and maintaining diverse talent through these initiatives and giving them a voice in the company.
Thank you to Kate Lipman of embrace Scar Therapy
Flexible work weeks
In the future, more and more companies will offer a flexible workweek. Workers will be trusted to manage their time independently and draw up their own schedules. As long as the work gets done and workers are reliable, managers will be happy.
Thank you to Dean Kaplan of The Kaplan Group
Gig workers and side hustles
The gig worker has freed up a lot of capital for new and existing organizations. Start-ups may not need to hire a full time web developer, a coder, or cyber-security tester. Hiring someone through Upwork or Fiverr is an efficient way to recruit talented people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Thank you to Dr. Subodh Simon Karmarkar of www.Refundwiz.com
Workers will turn to the hustle economy to make their livings. People will begin to leverage multiple sources of income, such as freelancing, creating content, and launching one or more businesses.
Thank you to Kyle Elliott of CaffeinatedKyle.com
People might choose to do writing for one company, bookkeeping for another and trail guiding as a freelancer — creating a full-pay career of side hustles.
Thank you to David Leonhardt of THGM Writers
Global talent search
Companies that require their team to physically be in-office are limiting their pipeline to local-only talent. Companies that are open to a remote workforce can truly secure the best person for the job by removing location requirements. From a hiring standpoint, I am hopeful that the virtual work trend is here to stay.
Thank you to Charlie Saffro of CS Recruiting
Remote work gives companies more options when it comes to employees. In a standard workplace, you are limited to applicants who live in the same city as your company or are willing to move, you may not always have access to the best talent. In a fully remote workplace, you can hire the best talent regardless of what city, state, or even country they live in. As more people realize this advantage exists, more and more companies will likely implement more and more remote workers into their staffs.
Thank you to Mark Daoust of Quiet Light
Digital human resources (HR)
Staff recruitment, onboarding, and training have all shifted to the internet. Now is the moment to start creating relationships with HR teams at industry companies if you don’t already have any. Start collaborating on business training programs.
Thank you to Jessica Wright of Dream Team Fundraising
In a remote/hybrid world, HR and IT must reject the old playbook and never look back. IT and HR professionals must work together to design the digital workspace experience in order to support new ways of working.
Thank you to Jamie Opalchuk of HostPapa
The future of the workplace will not be a cubicle, an office, or a makeshift office transformed during the pandemic. It will be the capacity to work from anywhere and with any tools, rather than a specific location.
Thank you to Radhika Gupta of 365Solutions
The gap between digital nomads and the typical office-going employee ceased to exist during the pandemic, which showed us the promise of location-independence. Although the mad scramble to get back to the office has begun, it is only a matter of time before the physical workplace is close to redundant.
Thank you to Mary Jurgensen of Gary and Mary West PACE
I think that people will always have a desire to work in-person at least every now and then, so rather than having dedicated offices, companies will rent space for employees to be able to drop in when they want to work in the office.
Thank you to Mark Pierce of Cloud Peak Law Group
As an agency, before the pandemic, we were already practising hybrid working up to a point. We were pretty flexible about when members of the team could come into the office and work or stay at home. At first, we were slightly concerned about productivity, but we have found that this has improved dramatically and we have reduced our office provision accordingly. We make up for the lack of team contact by arranging more team building activities which we find generates better creativity when people are allowed to interact in a relaxed environment.
Thank you to Laura Brennan of Flycast Media
CEOs and CFOs will start to realize that the only tools most workers need are a laptop and a telephone. For most companies, locating people in one place does not add value compared to the typical $12,000 per person in annual office space costs.
Thank you to Robert B Longley of IntuAction
The popularity of co-working spaces is going to skyrocket. Empty office spaces no one’s paying rent for are going to become shared offices and co-working spaces. So it’s going to be an ironic return to the office…but on our own terms. All the benefits of the office, none of the drawbacks. You go in when you want, stay as long as you need, socialize if you want, then head back home, or out to meet friends, to relax — all the freedom and flexibility in the world is yours to take.
Thank you to Andrei Vasilescu of DontPayFull
So many people have discovered the many benefits to working from home, and companies are finding that there are a lot of draws to having your employees out of the office. I think that there are going to be a lot of people who never go back to working in the office, long after the pandemic is over.
Thank you to Anastasia Allmon of FRP Legal
The future workplace will be characterized by fewer meetings. Meetings are typically an excellent way to brainstorm important ideas, but they can also devolve into a complete waste of time. In the future, employers will try to limit the number of meetings per day to just one. A clear agenda would be communicated to employees ahead of time to ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.
Thank you to Janet Patterson of Highway Title Loans
On the day I wrote this, my day started with a Zoom call with an affiliate manager for a Napa-based winery, who lives in Amsterdam. The idea of the standard 9-5 commute, with long in-person meetings, is hopefully and thankfully dead at places that don’t absolutely require them.
Thank you to Mark Aselstine of Wine Club Reviews
New management approaches
I predict that traditional management approaches will dissolve. “Firmer” management styles will need to be relaxed, as companies can no longer afford to lord over their employees at the risk of losing them (and then struggling to hire in the current climate). A hybrid and flexible approach to softer management styles will be required inline with the broader hybrid work approach of the last few years.
Thank you to James Taylor of James Taylor SEO
Businesses have traditionally thrived in spite of their culture. Empathetic leadership combined with an inclusive workplace, conditions that foster worker power, and an overall positive, engaging candidate and worker experience are all characteristics that will help firms retain and attract talent.
Thank you to Ellen Tang of Car Title Loan Lenders
Personalized employee perks
People today expect everything in their lives to be personalized to their individual needs and preferences, but so much of how we are compensated at work assumes a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of having HR try to read people’s minds and select perks that might make a few people happy, companies are going to move towards personalized employee perks. Engagement will be higher, budgets will be better managed, and personalization will create a more inclusive work environment.
Thank you to Amy Spurling of Compt
Pop-up virtual businesses
We expect a surge in the virtual, just-in-time organization, where individuals join together to produce work and then dissolve until the next project arrangement, thanks to the introduction of new work platforms that permit real-time teaming amongst independents. They have greater control and flexibility; they decrease margins and increase efficiency, and meet the demands of their clients for outstanding outcomes. We believe it’s just a matter of time before virtual reality is eclipsed by virtual businesses.
Thank you to Robin Antill of Leisure Buildings
Remote work is the next industrial revolution. It will transform economies, borders and laws. Remote work is so powerful that it has been coined as a general purpose technology — a term economists use for inventions like electricity or the internet. We are just at the tip of the iceberg and the best is yet to come.
Thank you to Lona Alia of SafetyWing
The remote/in-person distinction is going to become one of the most important ones in job types, akin to white collar/blue collar of the 20th century.
Thank you to Nick Mueller of Hawaiianislands.com
See Also: Every Company Going Remote Permanently
Results vs. hours
There will be an increased focus on outcomes instead of number of hours worked — and a culture where there’s a balance between autonomy and accountability for each employee.
Thank you to Evelyn Smith of Foxbackdrop
Organizations that consciously or unknowingly embrace a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) will face fewer obstacles. ROWE fosters a work atmosphere in which everyone has an equal balance of accountability and autonomy. ROWE can only work if everyone understands the organization’s goals and how their job fits into the overall strategy. It necessitates a trust-based culture.
Thank you to David Wurst of Webcitz
The future of work is going to be all about outcomes, not hours worked. In an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing economy, companies will be looking for employees who can produce results, not just clock in and sit at their desks for eight hours a day.
Thank you to Ismail Kuden of Kuden Rugs
Outsourcing is still popular because it allows businesses to staff up without having to worry about benefits packages. Keep a close eye on your industry’s outsourcing tendencies. More professionals will need industry-specific business management training if they become freelancers (private individuals) or solo practitioners.
Thank you to Jonathan Merry of Bankless Times
There will be an increase in contract and temporary employment opportunities, with a decrease in full-time employment opportunities.
Thank you to Amy Bos of MediumChat
The future is being created today. New job opportunities such as virtual world architects and metaverse influencers will be created, among others that we haven’t even imagined yet.
Thank you to Ronald Williams of BestPeopleFinder
Upskilling and digital proficiency will trump tenure and experience. The demand for fresh ideas, new information, and new business models will increase in the digital economy.
Thank you to Samuel DeCroes of Stock Trend Alerts
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual reality will close the gap between remote and in-person work models, effectively combining the best qualities of both. Because of how much freedom of choice this technology will offer teams, it will allow companies to operate based on productivity without impacting their employees’ well-being. VR will bring authentic and seamless experiences that will allow teams on the fence about hybrid models to collaborate even better than in person. While many criticize the hype behind the metaverse and spaces like it, it’s not just Meta pouring millions into this technology but other big companies like Microsoft and Google.
Thank you to Ivan Brozincevic of Free Affiliate Marketing Business
In the future, it won’t be a decision of whether to work remotely or in-person. Instead, companies will bring forth an entirely digital workplace — one in which virtual reality is used to aid collaboration and bring teams together regardless of distance.
Thank you to Mike Grossman of GoodHire
In the future, employee satisfaction will continue to be a priority for all organizations, regardless of size. The pandemic has taught us that workers are looking for something more than a simple paycheck; workplace flexibility, awesome benefits, and opportunities for development are all going to be at the forefront of the collective conversation about work.
Thank you to Jorge Vivar of Mode
Senior leaders will begin to view employee well-being as a business objective, rather than just a concern for HR.
Thank you to Andrew Dale of CloudTech24
Thanks to remote work, we will see a higher level of worker autonomy in small and large corporations, in the form of scheduling, career progression, decision-making authority, etc.
Thank you to Clayton Hasbrook of Oklahoma Lawyer
Companies that support the prosperity and well-being of their employees, as a core business function, will remain competitive, agile, disruptive, and innovative.
Thank you to Jylian Russell of Botpress
Want to contribute your prediction for the future of work?
Fill in the form to have your idea considered. If your idea adds value to the article, we’ll include it.
If you’d like to contribute more consistently, we have these options: