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 predictions. We got an amazing 263 responses, and have shared the 25 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
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
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
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
Flexible work weeks
In the future, more and more companies will offer a flexible work week. 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 economy has been gaining steam for years. It all started with freelancers looking for contract work online. Rather than depend on a full-time job, these freelancers look for short-term projects that require their services. Thus, graphic designers, developers, consultants, and other freelancers earn money through platforms like Upwork.
The gig economy has evolved together with technology. You don’t need particularly fancy skills to make money doing small tasks.
Thank you to Marta Carter of Honeygain
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
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 popularity of coworking 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 wish to, 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
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
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 in line with the broader hybrid work approach of the last few years.
Thank you to James Taylor of James Taylor SEO
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
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
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
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)
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
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