The workplace of the future

Do you see it?

What the workplace will look like in the next 10, 20 or 50 years time?

Part of me hopes — more like prays — that it won’t exist. That somehow it will be extinguished by our need to heal the earth, but (of course) that’s fanciful. For sure, there will be less work for humans to do, but by and large, I don’t expect the direction of travel to dramatically change.


Why indeed?

Mostly because we, qua humans, don’t like change and we’ll cling to the status quo as long as possible in the hope that something better will emerge. I don’t know. Perhaps my view is jaundiced by spending too much time in and around lawyers and law firms who are have a hard-won reputation for driving their firms by looking in the rear-view mirror. But then again, when the going gets tough, they can turn on a dime and make all manner of change.

I know a lot of people talk about a more human workplace but what does that really mean? Does it mean, people are not (currently) valued? Or we’ve got to accept everyone as they are and not compress their souls under a welter of rules, regulations and meaningless exhortation? Or something that I can’t even conceive, let alone articulate? To my mind, having been in work since the age of 13 (I’m now 52) I don’t hold out any hope that bosses, managers and leaders will suddenly change their ways because there’s a different set of marching orders.

Perhaps I shouldn’t even be writing about this issue. I mean, so much of what I see espoused online and in the many leadership et al. books are posited on prostelying some hard-won solution. Really! Why does everything need fixing? It’s so daft. Here we are building something only to then spend the next decade or more tearing it down, only to be replaced by something similarly abstract and without foundation. It’s a bit how I feel about the whole green technology and solution-driven mania to clean up the earth. Wouldn’t it have been better not to make a mess in the first place!

Think about it. We want to build a cathedral of excellence where people can become who they are; and get paid. But then again, even that narrative has to be questioned against the newish phenomenon — at least so far as the lexicon is concerned — of batshit and bullshit jobs. Surely, if we’re going to move from a hunter-gather existence, to an agrarian lifestyle to the current incarnation of personhood — i.e. the 20th century industrial complex — we need to ask a better question than how we maintain a work/life balance. Oh, please! Why should our lives be truncated in that way? There’s just life; and how we spend our time. And in my world, too many people have wasted great gobs of their time (life) doing work that was meaningless save that they got paid. But again, this ignores so many issues like how we might live in the gift economy, living in community and trimming our ‘needs and wants’ sails to live a more simplistic life.

I accept that what I’m inviting is a very different answer to the workplace of the future but then again, we too easily compartmentalise things without looking at the bigger picture.

Of course, if you feel I should be looking in a different direction for the answer to my question, please do drop me a line.

Take care.


Photo by Alex Smith on Unsplash