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What Will the Work Environment of the Future Look Like?

The work world your parents lived in is gone. It’s possible they never could have dreamed that the majority of the workforce would work from home each week, that automation would handle mundane tasks, or that billion-dollar companies could exist with no formal brick and mortar central office.

As baby boomers retire and millennials grow into their new role as the primary global workforce, office environments are changing. How will business leadership change their work environments to fit the growing number of digital natives? In this article, we predict the future state of the workplace.

The Future State of Work

Millennials, the population born between 1981 and 1996, are reshaping the traditional office. Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the majority of the workforce. By 2025 they will make up somewhere between 60 to 80% of the U.S. workforce. To attract this talent, corporations are rethinking office environments to better suit this cohort.

Millennials are the first digital native population and, as such, are having a significant impact on how office workers collaborate. This isn’t a face-to-face population; instead, more likely video chat or text a teammate. The community isn’t as “9 to 5” as their baby boomer predecessors, preferring instead to work whenever creativity strikes. Given their comfort with digital devices, they also expect a connected workplace with the best tools.

Business leadership is paying attention to the wants, needs, and priorities of millennials. Some of the work environment changes we will see include:

Increasing number of remote workers.

Today, 70% of the global workforce stays away from the office at least once a week in a remote work arrangement. Employers are embracing this trend as a cost-cutting measure. There is plenty of evidence that remote workers increase their productivity substantially. That’s good news for employers who are rethinking corporate structures to attract millennials.

Increases in contract labor.

The contingent workforce is growing, and corporations have been quick to seize on trends that suggest about 40% of today’s workforce are 1099-freelancers. The benefit for corporations is that they save on vacation and insurance costs. The benefit for individuals is the perceived independence of running a freelance business. However, there is some evidence that companies are dumping full-time workers and replacing them with freelancers, creating job insecurity in workers who formerly felt secure.

Increased automation will change job descriptions.

Employees in the future will spend less time on busy work and more time working hands-on. As AI tools continue to improve and expand, office tools will take on a more significant share of the work. Humans will work side by side with smart AI assistants. Forbes says, “The introduction of AI in the workplace will dramatically change working relationships.”

By 2025 millennials will make up the majority of office workers. Companies are shifting their work models to accommodate these fresh faces.

As millennials evolve their leadership skills to become the managers of the future, they will continue to discard the archaic work models of the prior generation and reinvent the modern office. They’ll grab new technology tools, work with an increasing number of freelancers, and empower their teams to work remotely.