14 Ways We Will We Be Working in the Future – Part 2

May 26, 2017
VR in the Future of Work

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In Part 1 of Ways We Will Be Working in the Future I talked about the changes we can expect to see in when and where we work, the tug-o-war between trust and privacy, individualization, the rise of the contractor, bots, and the cycle of continuous learning. So what else can we expect to see a change in the next 5-10 years?

Careers Will Become More Fluid

Long gone are the days when people choose their career coming out of school, join a company and about 45 years later get handed a nice clock from that company as a way of ‘thanks for dedicating your entire life to us.’

Gen X are spending an average of 3.4 years in each job, and Gen Y (millennials) are spending an average of 2.7 years in each job. In fact, about a third of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months. In many cases, people are not just changing jobs, but also changing careers.  The move away from permanent full-time jobs is also making it easier for an accountant to work at a non-profit or a landscape gardener to also write code.

“It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing,” said Steve Jobs,

In addition to working different jobs simultaneously, companies are starting to combine jobs more and more. Bentley University reviewed 24.5 million company job listings and found that 71% of job skills now spanned at least two categories.

Working in startups and non-profits, I feel I’ve spent most of my career in these positions (or ‘slashies’ as Jen Hubley Luckwaldt refers to them). In recent years I have been a “bookkeeper/office manager” as well as a “corporate assistant/operations manager.” My very first job was as a “web author/receptionist” (In fact, I think I’m up to about six careers and counting).
The good news is that this means we’ll all become more rounded.

As Kabir Sehgal (corporate strategist, US Navy Reserve officer, author, and record producer) says “When you work different jobs, you can identify where ideas interact and therefore bring more innovation to a given role.”

Expect smaller, more frequent promotions or at least horizontal moves in your job. With a willingness of millennials and GenZs to be continually learning and growing, employers are going to need to provide more continuous feedback, mentoring and steps towards career progression. These generations find the thought of waiting a whole year to learn about their strengths and areas of improvement ludicrous; they’ve been brought up on social media and are used to instant feedback!


I talked a little about this in my post “Exciting changes coming to a workspace near you!” but we can expect to see VR used in a variety of different ways in a number of industries, mainly gaming, engineering, healthcare, automotive, military, and real estate. Examples include VR for training (particularly when any physical risk is involved), designing (cars, houses, products), exploring real estate, or simply for working and meeting in immersive worlds. 

Multi-Department Teams

Expect to see the trend towards teams that bring together people from diverse areas of a company. Businesses are beginning to realize the value of the fresh perspectives and backgrounds these different people bring to a team.

Productivity = Output, not Time Spent

A much greater emphasis will be placed on what people produce rather than where or how they do it. Even if companies don’t go completely to a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), goal and objective setting, reporting, and employee evaluations will all become vital to managing employees and rewarding them for the output they achieve.

No More Suits

The trend is definitely towards more relaxed, comfortable clothing in the work environment (not to mention all the people working from home in their PJs!)

The Death of Email

Email is on its way out. We’re now beginning to use instant messaging and live chat tools instead of emailing back and forth to send files and discuss tasks, project progress, and where to go for lunch. In tools such as Slack or HipChat, if messaging back and forth is starting to get out of hand, there’s a button to press to connect with the people you’re communicating with via audio or video.

These tools don’t quite store threads as well as email does yet but hopefully, it won’t take too long for them to figure it out.

“Lots of communication that would’ve been done through email 10 years ago is now being done through chat, social networks and texting.” – Kevin Fox

Napping is Back

Office worker sleeping on his desk
Napping will be totally acceptable. Yay! In fact, some companies already have areas of employees to take a nap when needed. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a 2.5 hours commute in and out of London each day but was fortunate to have an understanding employer and a bed in the office where I could duck out for a quick nap when I needed to. It made a huge difference to my ability to do my job effectively during that time.


Companies are being expected to respond to customer requirements faster with each year that passes which means lean business practices will continue to be vital in allowing staff to push innovations and improvements as quickly as possible. Staff are also going to be pushing for new technologies which will enable them to do their jobs more effectively.

“As opposed to the earlier generations that modeled their way of working as per the tools and technologies that were available to them, this generation actually demands technology that can enable them to work the way they want. ” – Varadha Raju

Yep – changes are coming thick and fast, but as Sarah Wood from Unruly said: “Keep listening, keep learning, keep reading, keep evolving, keep experimenting, keep questioning, keep agile. Only then can you can keep on being at the cutting edge of trends that are reshaping the world we live in.” 
Future of Work Ironman giphy


Exciting changes coming to a workspace near you! rethink9to5, 2017

Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), Wikipedia

Thinkopolis VI: Moving Work | Year in Review, Workopolis, 2014

The Time for the Hybrid Job is Now, Bentley University, 2016

9 Industries Using Virtual Reality, Tech Republic, 2015