The number of “thought-leaders,” futurists, speakers, and major consultancies bombarding us with information about the future of work is increasing.
Since work makes up such a huge part of our lives, it is a fascinating subject. The convergence of a number of mega-trends and exponential innovation are propelling us ever faster towards a Brave New World of Work.
Will AI and VR replace most of the jobs? Are we going to have universal basic income? Are we still going to need offices, working hours, or even computers?
Big hairy questions, and no one really has answers, especially with articles of competing viewpoints in abundance online.
Therefore, we eagerly embraced the opportunity to be part of a truly innovative, and not least amazingly cool initiative to unleash the creativity of young designers on the topic of the future of work. jovoto, a Berlin-based crowdstorm company, launched its ForeWork initiative at the end of 2016, and we are lucky to be able to have a look “under the hood” to see the budding creative ideas coming in.
The crowdstorm is being held in two stages; the first, “Looking ForeWork,” just ended, and the second, “Design ForeWork,” is still underway. The initiative benefits from fantastic backing from some of the most forward-thinking companies, like adidas, Vitra, Cisco, Volkswagen, and Deutsche Telekom, in cooperation with WIRED.
For these young creatives the future of work is fluid, global, fun, diverse, and interactive. Here are some of the common aspects explored by the ideas submitted so far, as they imagine what work will look like in 2025:
Urbanization, transportation, and global mobility will have a big impact on actual workplaces. Many submissions have reimagined the office; as stackable and modular pods, units can be transported across a city, to be placed exactly where they are needed. As cities grow around the world, imagine just taking public transportation to a less busy area of town, where on that day traffic will be fluid, and finding your office there, right by the train station. Or are you in need of a meeting room to meet with clients or suppliers? No problem, just book your pod online, and it will be there, where you want.
Despite all the droids and AI, the need to fluently communicate and cooperate across languages, cultures, and continents is growing. Language barriers will no longer be an issue; pop in your earpiece and speak in your own language, and your partner will still be able to understand… and answer back in their own native tongue. E-mails? Instant messages? Those were the olden days. In 2025 your device records your video and voice messages, transcribes it for the written record, and sends it to your recipient.
Working across timezones and continents is still clumsy nowadays, despite Skype, video conferencing, and other audio-visual technologies. But for the time being, only knowledge workers can really benefit from this type of collaboration, without having to travel. You can share screens, but not really work jointly on physical products, machines, objects.
With VR, 3D, and other cool technologies, however, virtual collaboration between factories and engineers, doctors, designers, manufacturers, and craftsmen should be possible. Rotate and adjust the virtual image of the product, without having to take that 12-hour flight and contribute to pollution.
IQ is so nineties, EQ is all the rage. Being able to empathize is a major ingredient of great and effective collaboration. Teamwork is the future of work, across generations, cultures, continents, and disciplines. Silos will be gone, and everyone has to be able to understand each other. What’s more, we must understand how the quality of any interaction and relationship affects the outcome of the work.
It’s very interesting to see how we could use tools and gadgets to track our reactions to events, understand the emotional state of our counterpart, and make links between emotional states and business objectives.
The one-size fits all era is officially gone, and we will truly break the Ideal Worker mold. People can now truly customize how, when, and where they interact with their work. It may include a custom desk, or workspace, where you can even regulate the temperature around you. Do you need some quiet time? No problem. Or perhaps you need to learn something new to prepare for the next big project? No problem either. Everything will be accessible at your fingertips to make you happy, allow you to be healthy, and provide you with productivity resources.
Takeaways and the way forward
I am excited about the new design proposals, and to also see how some have been further refined and given more detail. There are definitely a number of aspects I haven’t come across elsewhere about how we imagine work to be in 8 years.
I hope there will be design submissions that will tackle wearable technology, as well as some revolving around health and work — since we will have to work pretty much for our entire lives, work must be sustainable, and we need to stay healthy for longer.
Think big and bold! The world needs creatives to help break down our habitual thought patterns and self-built walls around our creativity to make the best out of our resources for future generations!
To join the discussion and become a future of work leader, come collaborate with the ForeWork initiative. Get in touch with us here.