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Your workplace in 2020: Gartner's predictions

Your workplace in 2020: Gartner's predictions

How will people work 10 years from now?

How will people work 10 years from now? Gartner thinks it has a pretty good idea, predicting 10 major changes that will occur during the next 10 years.

"Work will become less routine, characterised by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness, 'swarming' and more," said Tom Austin, a Gartner fellow, in a media announcement.

In just five years, the report notes, 40 percent or more of an organisation's work will be "non-routine," which is up from 25 percent in 2010.

"People will swarm more often and work solo less. They'll work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organisation," Austin stated. "In addition, simulation, visualisation and unification technologies, working across yottabytes of data per second, will demand an emphasis on new perceptual skills." (Yes, he said "yottabytes.")

While Gartner offers 10 key changes in the nature of work in the report, here are five of the most interesting trends that Gartner predicts.

1. De-routinisation of Work. "The core value that people add is not in the processes that can be automated, but in non-routine processes, uniquely human, analytical or interactive contributions that result in words such as discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning," states the report. "Non-routine skills are those we cannot automate. For example, we cannot automate the process of selling a life insurance policy to a skeptical buyer, but we can use automation tools to augment the selling process."

2. Work Swarms. Gartner says that "swarming" is a work style characterised by a "flurry of collective activity by anyone and everyone conceivably available and able to add value."

"Swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating," the report notes. "Swarming is an agile response to an observed increase in ad hoc action requirements, as ad hoc activities continue to displace structured, bureaucratic situations."

3. Attention to Patterns. Previous Gartner research has centered on "pattern-based strategy." Basically, as the global economic environment has become more volatile, businesses have struggled to strategise for the future-since so much has been unpredictable.

In turn, Gartner predicts "growth in the number of organisations that create groups specifically charged with detecting divergent emerging patterns, evaluating those patterns, developing various scenarios for how the disruption might play out and proposing to senior executives new ways of exploiting (or protecting the organisation from) the changes to which they are now more sensitive."

4. Hyperconnectedness. It may sound buzz-worthy, but hyperconnectedness is a "property of most organisations, existing within networks of networks, unable to completely control any of them," notes the report. For instance, while critical supply chain elements are supposed to be "under contract," there is no guarantee that those supply chain partners and systems will perform properly, even if the supply chain is in-house, according to Gartner.

"Hyperconnectedness will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries," the report states, "and that has implications for how people work and how IT supports or augments that work."

5. My Place. It's no surprise to learn that the workplace is becoming more virtual, notes the report, "with meetings occurring across time zones and organisations and with participants who barely know each other, working on swarms attacking rapidly emerging problems." Of course, employees still have need for a "place" where they want to work.

"Many will have neither a company-provided physical office nor a desk, and their work will increasingly happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week," states the report. "In this work environment, the lines between personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organisation subjects, will disappear."

Workers will have to deal with the complexity (and chaos, it seems) created by overlapping demands, "whether from the new world of work or from external (non-work-related) phenomena," states the report. "Those that cannot manage the underlying 'expectation and interrupt overloads' will suffer performance deficits as these overloads force individuals to operate in an over-stimulated, information-overload state."

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