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Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century

futurework: Chapter 6 - Box 6.5

B O X 6.5 Going to the office is not what it used to be

As technology enables workers to decentralize their work, clocking "in" and "out" will no longer be necessary. Workers may rarely be in the office, and their working hours may bear little resemblance to the traditional nine-to-five schedule. What might the workplace look like in the year 2020?

wireless computers video-mail videophones

  • Video-mail, complete with sound and an image of the sender, will pop up on a wireless computer screen that the worker can access anywhere.
  • Videophones will provide "real time" images along with conversation.
  • Meetings, conferences, and seminars that include participants in different locations worldwide will be conducted via satellite.
  • Though office buildings will not disappear, the space inside them will be reconfigured to support a workforce that comes in primarily to attend meetings and retrieve data. The office of the future will be a place for focused work that requires true collaboration. It will also be a key site for socializing and cementing the relationships that keep an organization going.

SOURCE: Adapted from Susan Paynter, "Workplace 2020: What’s in Store for Working Mothers in the Brave New Business World of Tomorrow," in Working Woman, May 1999

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