Will we continue to strive for the next promotion in the pecking order of the corporate world or will we move away from hierarchies in the future? Will becoming a partner or vice president signify that you’ve “made it” in a world when machines do everything? Will we continue to work 5 days a week, 9 hours a day or will we work 4 days a week and 10 hours a day? Will humans still be needed to prevent good robots from turning bad? Will we still need to learn to code in the future? Will a hoodie replace the Armani suit as a new office dress code? Will we need “WiFi-free” (and not “free WiFi”) zones to go back to the basics of being human? And what’s going to happen to our future generations? Will they have sufficient work? What kind of work will they be doing? These and many other questions cross our minds when we think about the future of work, creating a sense of anxiety and fear among us.
To give you a dose of ease, we propose 42 elements that will shape the future of work. These elements are grouped under the main report title, From/To. The name of our report implies its format and structure: “from” describes where we are, and “to” describes where we’re going. You will find these 42 ideas organized around five main themes:
- The Way We Work: How we do what we do;
- The Tools of Work: The apps, systems, networks, tools, and processes that we use to work;
- The Aesthetics of Work: What work looks like; how it feels;
- The Issues with Work: When and why work is work;
- The Meaning of Work: What gets us out of bed and makes us proud
While thinking about and writing this report, we wished we could rent the car from the movie, Back to the Future, to take us literally into the future, where we would witness the new (and hopefully not scary) world with our own eyes and then come back to the present to write this report. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but we did unleash our imagination to look at the world through a different lens. We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of an individual in the future and then sketched the new world of work that mattered to us (and hopefully it will matter to you too).
In short, From/To is a state of the union for the future of work. Whether you work in the White House or in the warehouse, the future of your work will be very different. The rise of robots, machine intelligence, distributed ledgers, and ‘gig’ labor, among other emerging trends, are turning the meaning of work upside-down. We are entering into a completely different world of work which is shaping up quite differently from anything we’ve ever seen, or worked in, before. Whether you’re excited by the future or fearful, this is no time to ignore the changes happening around us. Ideas big or small can have a significant impact on the way we work and play.
In the face of an unknown future, it is critical to pay attention to the changes we describe in the report because these changes will decide the fate of many individuals, businesses, governments, economies, and our overall society in the times to come. Sit back, relax, and enjoy reading the report and do let us know the elements you enjoyed reading the most!