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Research shows drastic workplace changes by 2030

10 July 2008

By 2030 the corporate office as we know it today will no longer exist, according to new research by Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Innovation. Instead, we will be working more from home and our work/life balance will be greatly improved as work, home and social lives become more closely entwined.

Our workplaces will evolve and continuously adapt to the changing global conditions to remain successful. The study, ‘Tomorrow’s Sustainable Workplace: Imagineering the Future’1 looks at how changing economic threats, emerging markets, and health scares to mass migration and a rise of insecurity could have a dramatic impact on the way we live and work.

According to Dr. Marie Puybaraud, Director of Global WorkPlace Innovation at Johnson Controls, we will have a more technology enabled and environmentally friendly environment. “Our approach to how we work is going to change as we keep a pace with wider social and economic developments. We will work more collaboratively, as employees we will have a greater voice and be able to help drive our businesses forward. The rise of home working is going to lessen the environmental impact of us travelling to work and the growth of technology is going to allow us to achieve even more from outside the office environment.”

This report is the second of a series of three, produced in collaboration with The Futures Academy at the Dublin Institute for Technology. Based upon the Futures Methodology, which has been used extensively to understand tomorrow’s business mind by considering issues, trends and challenges, the report looks at factors that will define our workplace in 2030 by using scenarios to define probable futures.

The first report, ‘Workplace Futures: A Prospective Through Scenarios’2, identified three distinct global futures – Jazz, Wise Counsels and Dantesque. Johnson Controls uses these futures in ‘Tomorrow’s Sustainable Workplace’ to predict how and where we will be working by 2030.

The three very different scenarios for 2030 are:
�� Hive – where economic growth rapidly accelerates, driven by technological advances and deregulation. Major disasters cause knowledge workers to take refuge in home-working and the corporate office no longer exists.
�� Eco-Office – a stable, knowledge based, global economy based on collaboration and consensus, and focused on environmental balance and social progress. Eco-offices, similar to hotels, emerge, providing good services to improve quality of life and work and to attract the top talent.
�� Gattacca – a fragmented, disjointed and insecure world in which economic stagnation emphasises cultural and racial differences. The corporate hierarchical structure is now more prominent and the workplace is similar to a production line in a manufacturing plant.

Johnson Controls believes that the Eco-Office is the most likely scenario where offices are more like hotels; employees can ‘check-in’ to work and use local amenities. Offices will be located in employee villages, characterised by sustainable transport and biodiversity plans. New workplace structures, life-long learning and corporate culture will lead us from a knowledge to a wisdom revolution.

If Hive or Gattaca become reality, we will be faced with a much darker working environment. Global pandemics make us fearful to go out, leading to environments where work, home and social life combine; or a fragmented, insecure world leads us to fear our colleagues and work intensive and long hours for little pay or reward.

Whilst the probable future is a mixture of all three scenarios, for businesses, achieving the sustainable workplace is going to require a shift in traditional thinking. Rather than short three to five year planning, a strong strategic vision needs to be developed that spans decades rather than years.

Chairman of the Futures Academy Professor John Ratcliffe, co-author of the report with Ruth Saurin, comments: “The global context for business continues to change at an unprecedented rate and few deny that sustainability will be a key driver of change on the corporate world at every level and across all sectors over the next 50 years. The workplace of the future will have to be even more flexible and adaptable to facilitate growth. We have to develop a mind-set that views sustainability of the workplace with a longer term perspective and escape from seeking superficial and singular solutions to issues such as energy performance and BREEAM. Above all, we need to be innovative in our approach to universal connectivity and investigate how it can help us sustain business, society and planet.”

To find out more about Tomorrow’s Sustainable WorkPlace, or purchase a full copy of the report visit www.globalworkplaceinnovation.co.uk


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