We recently published the results from our survey of global businesses who told us what the pros and cons of remote working have been for them, and what their future plans look like. Whilst we don’t know how long COVID-19 will play an impact on the way we live and work, we do know that it has solidified the foundations for a very different future.
So here goes. Had we published the below predictions 12 months ago, we would have been dubbed extremely imaginative; potentially even insane. But today, we are able to publish them and confidently say, here are 11 radical but very likely predictions for the future of work.
1. Distributed working pods / micro-offices 🌐
Our first prediction is that large, fancy sky-scraper HQ’s will be, at best, a museum of a previous era of working. Companies will have adapted to the new era of working by replacing big office spaces with distributed, small “pods” of offices in various cities. In fact, we credit Barbara Larson of HBR with this very concept, who spoke to us recently about her own predictions and concerns regarding remote work. According to Barbara, remote work due to COVID-19 and remote work due to fundamental shifts in the way the working world is changing are two separate things. So we will hardly be surprised if companies start opening up micro-offices in smaller cities across the globe, in the very near future.
2. Friday at the pub 🍻 becomes House Party App night
In our Future of Work survey, isolation was cited as a recurring downside of COVID-19 and working from home. We predict that this issue, and rightly so, will be a key obstacle that will need to be addressed by global business leaders. Prolonged feelings of isolation can be detrimental to people’s mental health, and in the long term, businesses will have to find new ways of bringing their people together for team bonding, as well as communicating company culture. With Friday nights down at the pub sadly becoming a thing of the past, we predict that apps like House Party will be the new “team drinks”, and away days will be replaced by week-long team getaways. Fun!
3. Starting a business becomes easier 📈
In every economic downturn, opportunity fortunes the brave. Whilst we can’t all become entrepreneurs and risk-takers overnight, a positive effect from working remotely that we predict at TalentDesk.io, is that as people save time and money, they might consider starting side hustles. With the world changing at a faster rate than expected, we suspect a lot of unicorns will soon appear to meet that incremental change.
4. Rent in cities becoming cheaper than the countryside 👩🌾
We won't bore you by going over the fundamentals of the demand and supply model. With a huge influx of people choosing, for many reasons, to live in the countryside since COVID-19 hit, we don’t need to do the math in order to predict that rent and house prices in the rural parts of countries will start rising, whilst prices in the city will start dropping. Well, they already have. But we predict that at some point there will be a crossover, and finding a place in the countryside will be the equivalent of apartment-hunting in Chelsea. Yikes!
5. Forget grocery markets, pop to your garden for a fresh salad! 🌿
With the possibility of owning a garden and having an abundance of space being the key reason why many households will opt for working in the countryside as opposed to working from home in a big, polluted city, growing your own herbs will likely become the equivalent of yesterday’s “buying a plant for my windowsill”. What that means is that popping to Tesco’s for a washed & ready-to-eat packaged salad will be a thing of the past. Consider walking across the lawn to your own vegetable garden and preparing your meal from scratch.
6. Wellies are the new loafers 👢
Do you get pangs of regret and annoyance every time you open your closet and see that extravagant suit you splurged on last year hanging in there, completely unworn? Well it might be time to consider getting rid of it altogether, and investing in a good pair of wellies! Just as walking around in a Victorian-era style corset dress would look slightly ridiculous nowadays - no offence to anyone - suits and pencil skirts may soon look similarly out of place. Zoom-meeting attire will most likely prioritise comfort over style, and you may want to slide your loafers away to make space for your chunky new wellies.
7. Dating goes back 20 years - hello fix-ups and arranged marriages ⛪
Technology, as we all know, is an uncontrollable beast that has shaped this generation beyond what our ancestors could have ever imagined. And one area it has definitely affected is dating life. But of course for everyone, and particularly young people, moving out of big cities and back into their family homes, or just relocating to cheaper, more rural parts of the world, online dating or dating in general can truly become a challenge. Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking may be on to something...🤔
8. The world becomes a greener place ✅
According to Nature Climate Change, daily carbon emissions fell by 17% in April 2020 compared with 2019. Whilst we can’t keep the world in lockdown forever, this period has definitely allowed us as individuals, and as companies, to rethink the effect that our carbon footprint has had on our planet, and how we can all contribute to making the world a cleaner place. With everyone opting for or inevitably falling into a healthier lifestyle, with more time spent at home, eating home-cooked meals, and less transportation pollution, we predict that by 2025 carbon emissions will be on average more than 15% lower than 2019 levels.
9. The future workforce is happier and healthier 👶
We often talk about the Future of Work and forget that today’s children are exactly that. It has definitely been a trying time for children, but it may all balance out into something much more positive. Today’s children will remember this trying time, how they spent more time with their families, and how they learned the importance of basic commodities. Families relocating to more rural areas during lockdown have been exposed to the fact that they can actually do their work, from anywhere. As a result, we predict the average family’s quality of life will increase, with children growing into happier, healthier adults.
10. Income gap narrows & opportunities rise for people living in secluded areas 👬
Personally, this may be my favourite prediction. The recent events of 2020, especially in the US, have highlighted how unfair and disparate the world really is. Privilege is real, and sadly it affects generations to come. But with remote work breaking down the boundaries of geography, there could be a higher number of opportunities for people who have no choice but to live in secluded, less-advantaged areas of the world. We predict this will lead to a smaller income gap in the future, with people landing their dream jobs remotely, whilst freelancing will enable everyone to be their own boss and make that extra bit of money.
11. Freelancing becomes the norm 💻
With more than 1 in 3 people freelancing as of now, and projected to a whopping 1 in 2 by 2027 (pre COVID-19), it’s safe to say that we predict that in fact, by 2027, more than 50% of the working population will be freelancing! Similarly, with 80% of large US companies already planning to switch to a flexible workforce, we predict that by 2027 not only will the majority of the population be part of a flexible workforce, but that the majority of large companies will have switched to a majority distributed, flexible working model.
Let's set a calendar reminder for October 2027 and check back here! We're confident that at least some of our predictions will have by then been validated.