We have all been touched by the rise in new technologies. And as these new technologies are used to create ever more powerful systems, the world is changing, seemingly inexorably, at a faster and faster rate. This will have a profound effect on every aspect of our lives; how we relate to our families, how we manage our time. And, of course how we work. Working conditions will change as the world does.
So how will working conditions change? Let’s start with the obvious.
The new workforce
This technology has facilitated the rise of the digital nomad. A 2018 study by research firm MBO Partners found that 4.8 million US citizens identified as digital nomads, “Independent work continues to be a compelling way to make a living, build valuable skills, find satisfaction, and contribute to economic security for a growing number of Americans,” said Gene Zaino, founder, and CEO of MBO Partners. “
The point of this in terms of working conditions is exactly why digital nomadism is so popular. You create your own working conditions. You could be in a hotel room or sitting at a café while earning your money with online work.
The same is true of remote workers. More and more companies are giving workers the option to work from home. Again, creating their own working conditions which (we presume) suit them just fine. In fact, many remote workers claim that they do more in less time without the distractions of the office. It’s estimated that remote workers have increased by 117% in only a few years. Many companies like it because it frees up the workspace. In fact, some companies are now insisting on only hiring remote workers. The rise of new messaging apps has made remote work easier and an effective alternative.
The offices of the future
With the rise of remote working, the offices themselves will change. More workspace will be freed up so companies may decide to utilize it for entertainment areas or exercise areas or even improved catering facilities. Another possible change if your working in an office, may simply be that your company moves to smaller, cheaper office space. Smaller offices may not sound great at first, but if your company saves on costs, they become more profitable. And that could mean more chances of a bonus for you.
A further likely trend is that companies will increasingly collect and process data to see how employees are actually using the workspace. They can then design the layout and technology to improve efficiency. The effect should also make the employees’ interactions with their working environment more effortless and improve their sense of well-being and satisfaction with their working conditions. Smart workplaces are set to increasingly become the norm.
Even the conditions of the “meeting room” will change. Everyone is already used to a video conference call but new technologies will make virtual meetings a much more interactive experience. Virtual reality displays will increase the sense of participation for multiple attendees in multiple locations. Augmented reality will be used to hugely improve the presentation of graphs and data in an exciting way. And wait for it, the next big thing for the future will be holograms presenting in the boardroom.
The other seismic shift in working conditions is that the co-worker beside may not be a human being. The prediction is that the future workforce will be a “blended” one. Humans and “bots” will work side by side. This may affect your actual job description but probably in a beneficial way with bots taking some of the more mundane tasks off your shoulders. It’ll probably involve some re-skilling but that could give you a useful advantage in the changing world.
Changing your own working conditions
We’ve already discussed the “digital nomad”, which is one option if you value independence and choosing your own working conditions. You’ll need to be confident in working online and being able to use social media to source work and an income for yourself. One drawback may be that you (unless you’re doing it with a partner), may find yourself lonely.
You could try asking the boss if you can work remotely. This is the instant way to change your working conditions to ones that suit you better. You’ve got to have a lot of self-discipline though and you may find yourself disconnected from the banter of the office more than you might think.
If you are staying in the office, there is one simple thing that you can do to feel better about your working conditions. Change your environment and see your productivity levels improve and your feelings of self-worth and job satisfaction get better and better. Simple things like decluttering your desk and the rest of your office can also declutter your mind and leave you feeling less stressed. A more minimalist looking office can make you feel less overworked and more like you are on top of things.
Play with the lighting in the office if you can. Softer lighting can have a soothing effect and leave you less likely to get agitated.
Plants can also help. That small bit of greenery can have a relaxing effect. Super cleanliness makes for a clearer thought process. Add some fresh air with an open window, and try to make sure there’s natural light, not a shuddering fluorescent bulb.
Get up from your computer screen at least every twenty minutes and walk around, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Simple little tricks, but they work.