It’s bound to happen.
Over the next ten years, the workplace will fade away. So will the conventional working day. Output will be all: but workers will work flexibly, at hours that suit both them and the business, often from home or from hot desks which could be all over the world.
At one of our Network events the other day an HRD commented how he’d been taken on a tour of his new company and in an open plan office of fifty or sixty people, not a single phone rang. This would have been inconceivable just five years ago.
But this isn’t news. If that’s the inevitable next stage (with a few exceptions), what will be the stage after that? After all, we all know why the past is there: it’s to provide material for theme parks. Give it say, thirty or forty years, and I guarantee organisations will be back in offices – but only out of irony. Talking to people will be rebranded as a new form of social networking, and offices will be relaunched both as historical curios for tourists, but also in creative industries to show their customers how whacky and offbeat they are by dressing everyone in suits and ties and charging nominal sums for bad coffee.
They’ll inevitably get the historical details wrong. The typing pool will crash away on typewriters the size of treasure chests while trimphones twitter in the background and BlackBerries hum like barbershop choirs, in a confused goulash of antique technology. Museums with amusing personalised ID cards for tickets will have interactive exhibits about that weird-faced dinosaur, the commuter. Suits and ties will be seen as wing collars and cravats are today.
So enjoy your office while it lasts. Because in thirty years’ time you’ll be visiting it again, but this time it’ll cost you €200 to get in - and another €100 for the Guide Book.
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