Study Says Future Workers Will Have More Flexibility, More Hours at Work

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In the future, workers will have more flexibility to do their jobs from wherever they want, but, at the same time, jobs will increasingly encroach into people’s private lives.

That’s the conclusion of a survey called Office of the Future: 2020. This was conducted by OfficeTeam, a staffing company.

Of the executives polled, 87 percent believe telecommuting will increase in the next 10 to 15 years, giving employees greater flexibility about where and when they work.

Much of this flexibility will come from increasing use of mobile devices. These are expected to become more sophisticated in the years ahead. Upcoming generations will combine the functions of multiple pieces of hardware – such as personal computer, phone, fax, scanner, electronic organizer, or camera – into a single device.

Professionals will use them to participate in videoconferences, check email, return calls, upload and download documents, distribute reports, collaborate on projects, conduct research, schedule virtual meetings, scan printed documents or images, and send or receive text, audio, and video.

Future handhelds will provide access to corporate headquarters, an instant office center, the Internet, colleagues’ computers, the user’s own home desktop, or a library database.

Of course, long-time handheld users are aware that many current mobile devices can already perform these tasks, but future devices will make them easier to do, and far more people will be able to take advantage of them.

The Downside

While most people welcome the idea of having greater flexibility on where and when they perform their jobs, there is a downside.

Of the executives surveyed by OfficeTeam, 42 percent think employees will be working more hours in 10 to 15 years. Only 9 percent said they would be working fewer hours.

In addition, 86 percent of the executives said staff will be expected to remain in close contact with the office while they’re on vacation.

The group at OfficeTeam that put Office of the Future: 2020 together believe that companies and employees will take a new view on the balance between their work and private lives. People may put in more time, but they will do so using tools that provide more control over their schedules and allow them to better balance priorities. There will be an increasingly blurred line between work and other activities; people will need to multitask to meet all of their obligations efficiently.

“In the future office, there will be added pressure to adapt quickly to change, work smarter, increase productivity and perform duties outside of one’s job description,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “The good news is that emerging technological tools and educational opportunities will better enable professionals to meet these challenges.”

More information is available on the Office of the Future: 2020 web site.

Thanks to CNET for the tip.

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