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Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century

futurework: Chapter 4 - Box 4.4

B O X 4.4


A group of more than 100 electrical, chemical, mechanical, civil, and heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning engineers was recently surveyed to describe how—using currently available technology—the workplace of the future will be more environmentally friendly. 2 Overwhelmingly, engineers cited computer technology as the dominant influence on almost every aspect of the future workplace. Some of the other predictions included:

  • Ergonomic keyboards and voice-activated data input and retrieval, reducing carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-motion and stress-related injuries.
  • A vast increase in work from home, using teleconferencing, e-mail, and other digital communications.
  • More fingertip control and less brute force.
  • Healthier workplaces that are friendlier to the environment. New office buildings will also be more energy efficient, designed to use natural light and advanced, efficient lighting technologies. More people working at home means less commuting—4,000 miles less a year for the commuter with a 40-mile roundtrip to work who works at home two days a week—reducing fossil fuel consumption, emissions, and commuting stress.

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