Business Of The Future: What Will The 2020 Workplace Look Like?


Business Of The Future: What Will The 2020 Workplace Look Like?

Our working environment is changing rapidly before our eyes. Walls in offices are coming down to foster collaboration and inclusivity. Brainstorming sessions are being moved from the board room to online chat rooms. Training collateral is being moved online to provide flexible and dynamic access for staff. Many cities across the globe are tackling the issue of traffic congestion to and from business districts resulting in co-working spaces and ‘work from home’ arrangements are becoming the norm for even some of the largest corporations around the world in order to attract and retain the very best people.

We are at the point where an employee not only desires a flexible work structure, they expect it. It’s not a perk that sets you apart, it’s the thing keeping you in the game. The flexibility you offer may be the single biggest deciding factor in attracting that gun hire you need. Not how profitable you are, not how big and attractive your brand is, not even your salary offer. In fact, read on and you’ll see why they won’t even want a salary!

So let’s look to the future. How does flexible working look in the years to come?

Suburban Co-working Spaces

Up to now, co-working spaces have been traditionally inner city based and generally focused on startups, consultants or the creative industry (graphic designers, web developers etc). These are incredibly successful in creating groups of like-minded people, facilitating the sharing of ideas, and providing small businesses a cost effective alternative to inner city office space. These spaces are rarely used as a place to house workers from larger companies.

Co-working spaces aren’t going away in the short to medium term but they will start to evolve outside the city centres. Inner city businesses will look for ways to reduce travel time for employees by renting desks in suburban co-working spaces. The market for suburban spaces will be very different to traditional spaces as these will attract a much more eclectic group of workers who are placed there by their employees rather than looking for a place to collaborate with others themselves.

The benefits to the business are huge. High-speed internet, quality phone systems, sign-in sign-out accountability, controlled and safe environments and shared meeting space are very attractive to a business that requires management of flexible work arrangements.

Businesses will use cloud and terminal services technology to allow a workforce of ‘bring your own device’ employees to securely work from anywhere with an internet connection and have access to everything they would have sitting in a cubicle on level 9 of an inner-city office block.

Working from Home

If you ask an employee if they would like to work in a co-working space or work from their home office or kitchen table, the answer will almost always be “work from home”. This provides complete flexibility for an employee to fit work tasks around their home duties in an environment that is completely comfortable for them.

However, the challenges faced by businesses make this a tricky arrangement for a number of reasons. High speed internet is not available to all homes, moving to complete mobile phone reliance can be costly, health and safety responsibilities are blurred, lack of visibility and accountability, and the thing that often creates the greatest challenge: who pays for what?

Despite all of these challenges, as internet services are improved and technology solutions are created and evolved, home offices will steadily rise in adoption. The reduction in visibility and accountability of an employee will be, in part solved by my next topic; death of the salary

Death of the Salary

This is the clincher and the one that will take the longest for employers to get their head around. It will revolutionise the flexible work environment and create highly effective and efficient teams with large output capacity.

Your employees will no longer get a salary. Instead, employees will bid for, and complete, projects. Each project will require one or more people to complete with a fixed rate paid at the end. One employee may choose to take on a small project or two and give themselves some more time for other life activities. Another employee may choose multiple, larger projects and earn far more over that period of time that they would have under a salary model. They will choose which teams they want to work for and for how long. They will choose the projects that they enjoy and leave others for someone else. When they need to save for a car, work harder and earn more. When they need to take a break, they’ll take one.

The benefits for the flexible employee are great but what’s in it for the employer? Imagine a business where people are perfectly matched with projects that interest and engage them and where their skill-set lies. Where you only pay for results. Where employees control their own workload and you don’t wear the risk. Sound crazy? It’s already happening.

Airtasker ( is an example of a list of projects with fixed costs that workers bid on. There are reported cases of people receiving their complete income source from Airtasker jobs as they pick and choose what they want to do and how much they want to work.

Now, Airtasker and The Good Guys have teamed up in Australia to launch an app where, after buying a new TV, you can select from a list of certified installers in your area, book and then pay for the installation services for your new equipment. Instead of The Good Guys employing staff for these services, they are calling on certified workers to bid for and complete the services independently using the Airtasker platform.

As Small Businesses, we need to adapt to the changing needs of our people. Instead of fitting workers into our needs, we need to fit our business into our worker’s needs. Ultimately, what sounds difficult now, will be the simplest model of effective work we’ve ever seen.

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