5 Predictions For The Workplace Of The Future

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I’m finally doing it. I’m embracing a buzzword. I probably have already written a blog laden with buzzwords, but I usually have memories including phrases like “the new normal” and “synergy” expunged from my brain so I can’t recall it at the moment. 

If you missed the news (not sure how, I flew a blimp near your house), I recently started a new job, working for an awesome start-up in the office leasing sector. The reason for me changing was simple : 

I think a big change is coming and I want to be part of it. 

As I get to know my new colleagues, settle into a new office and discover that's not actually the coffee machine but a decorative table lamp, I’ve been thinking about how the craziness that is the last five years will impact the way we work, so I thought I would note down my five big predictions for how working life will change over my lifetime.

Generative AI tools will become as integrated in daily work life as tools like Excel and Word

I’m a white dude in my twenties, you should have guessed I wouldn’t be able to talk for more than five minutes before mentioning AI. A lot has been made about the progress of AI and how it threatens millions of jobs, and I think it is going to end up being one of the most impactful innovations on the future of work we have ever seen. However, I don’t think that it is going to be this world-ending force, and I believe that in the next ten years, almost all jobs will involve interaction with and heavy use of AI systems. I also believe this will rapidly increase productivity to a new height comparable but vastly dwarfing the impact of the internet on modern businesses.

It’s going to be a wild ride, but my advice this week remains the same as it was a few weeks ago: remain open, future focused and adaptable to new systems and ways of working to remain AI proof.

The modern day office leasing system will stop being the go-to model for businesses

One of the main reasons I made the leap to my new job was a fascinating chat I had with one of the founders about the state of the world's office space at the moment. Essentially, the office leasing sector has not caught up to the post-pandemic reality that companies want an office, but not for 5 days a week. Currently, most companies' options are either rent coworking space (not really yours) or rent a full time office that is going to sit empty half the time.

Both of these are bad options for the vast majority of businesses, sacrificing productivity, culture and team building all at once.

I (and the rest of the team at Space32) believe in the future, a more flexible model will be available which allows for sharing of office space between harmonious companies, allowing both companies to have a premium office space without weighing on their budget too much. Which is exactly why I joined Space32, the first marketplace to offer hybrid working solutions.

Benefit packages will continue to evolve, including more standardised compensation for WFH and childcare

As the office lifestyle changes and hybrid working becomes more and more common, I expect that traditional compensation packages will be tweaked to include contributions towards things like home office setups as standard. Most compensation packages were A) crafted during a bull market where cash was surplus and B) built around 5 days a week in the office. Things like office masseuses, ping pong tables and work socials are still awesome perks, but when you are only in the office two days a week, it starts to lose its sheen. I believe this will lead a lot of businesses to be more creative with compensation packages to keep up with the changing job landscape.

We will adopt a four day work week, and promptly complain about it

Let’s be honest, I could have just whacked a prompt for this blog into ChatGPT and been done with it. AI speeds up 99% of daily office activities, so much so that it has opened the door wide open for a massively reduced working schedule, even paving the way for the exalted idea of the four day work week. 

However, my bold and pessimistic prediction is that after a few years of four day work weeks being commonplace, you’ll start to see articles drifting about the thought leadership mesosphere about how 4 days is too much, and we should aim for three because GPT-8 just came out and it has an inbuilt feature to pull sickies after big England games so who even needs real employees anymore.

Pay disparity will become more marked, and we may see AI repeat the biases of previous generations to widen the gap

I originally started writing this blog so as to have a reprieve from talking about AI, but here we are and AI is the genesis of 50% of the posts on this list. So far I have written blogs on the history of AIthe potential stumbling blocks and also the thing that worries me most about the proliferation of AI tools, but one thing can be certain, and that is that AI will change the workplace irrevocably. 

My fear is that due to a lack of safeguarding and appropriate regulation, AI will exacerbate already existing biases in the workplace, and actually make it harder to deal with than it already is by hardcoding it into opaque systems that we rely too heavily on. I believe that the more we apply these unchecked AI tools to things like HR functionality and recruitment, we run the risk of baking bias into organisations and hiring processes, and widening the pay gap for minorities and women, as the tools have inherent bias trained into them.

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