A Long Term View
Looking at the long-term future of work here are some thoughts and predictions.
Firstly, 8 issues that I think are intractable issues that will impact in different ways on work and workplaces. I’ve taken a bit more of a wholistic view with these because they all have an influence on how we work. I’ll then look at how these issues could be resolved and redefine how we work.
- Work is being redefined by creativity and collaboration, not routine stuff. This will mean we need to redefine the workplace to support these activities. Banks of desks won’t be needed. Connecting, creative and collaboration spaces will be needed
- Virtual connectivity will become more efficient because technology just keeps getting better
- Diversity-opportunities and contributions from people from diverse circumstances and backgrounds will increase
- Mental health will become even more of an issue. People need people
- Housing will become more and more unaffordable for new talent. This will either push talent out of cities or push them into much denser living accommodations.
Affordability i.e. income/price ratio has grown from something like 2 in the 70’s to over 9 now in Sydney. So, accommodation to house talent is just getting more and more unaffordable.
- Climate change will become more and more pressing. Transportation accounts for 29% of greenhouse gases. Private transportation accounts for about 17% of total emissions. 39% of emissions are from construction
- Transportation to and from work will become more and more difficult. Most congestion is caused by single occupancy cars. Capacity will always drive demand and demand will exceed capacity, so this is an intractable problem. Over 60% of people travel to work by car alone in Sydney according to ABS.
- Liveable cities/neighbourhoods. People are demanding -i.e. less pollution, less noise, easier, safer access, open streets, place making and more connectivity.
How can we address these issues?
These are my suggestions:
- Work redefined by creativity and collaboration
Banks of desks won’t be needed. Connecting, creative, mentoring and collaboration spaces will be needed.
- Virtual connectivity
We will need to figure out how to blend the physical and virtual in a much more immersive and inclusive way
Flexible working will open opportunities for a much more diverse and inclusive workforce.
WFH or WNH (working near home) will be imbedded in work culture
- Mental Health
To address mental health, we need to provide opportunities for connections. The office as a meeting and connection place will increase in importance
- Climate Change, Housing Affordability, Transportation, Liveable Cities/Neighbourhoods
These issues combine to become a really big issue that need an integrated approach.
Solutions need to include smaller transit-oriented communities where people can either walk or bike to work. Work needs to be distributed i.e. not hub and spoke, but distributed matrix based on transit-oriented communities to create a network of community-based hubs.
Head offices, if and when needed should be much smaller and only house core functions, everything else goes to the distributed matrix or co-located coworking spaces.We need to reimagine our cities to enable these outcomes and make them more liveable with denser “20-minute neighbourhoods” with less reliance on cars (electric cars will not solve congestion or other liveability issues)