Quiz: The 2030 workplaceCan you tell the futurology from the fibs?
HR spends a lot of time worrying about the near future. What’s the manpower plan for the next FY? How will that new legislation affect diversity policy? And most importantly, how much tax is the next budget going to add to a litre of Pinot Grigio?
Ah, but forget about the near future, friends. Instead, let’s deep-dive into the long term.
Broadband company Plusnet recently conducted research into what the workplace will look like in 2030, speaking to fifteen ‘futurologists’. ‘Whilst some of the technology is a long way off and outlandish in some respects,’ says Plusnet’s CEO Andy Baker of the results, ‘it is fascinating to hear and see what the mix of experts suggest.’
We took the experts’ fascinating predictions and mixed them up with some predictions we ourselves futurologised down the pub. Take our quiz to see if you can tell the difference between the professional predictors and the pub prophesiers. But be warned – science fact can be a whole lot weirder than science fiction…
Q1. How will you get to work in 2030?
A. Hover boards, like in Back to the Future?
B. Self-driving cars, like in Total Recall?
C. Moving walkways, like in The Jetsons?
The correct answer is B. ‘Self-driving cars will definitely be on the roads by this point,’ reckons futurist Jacob Morgan, keynote speaker, podcaster and author of The Future of Work. Self-driving technology is already being trialled by Google, with the US market alone apparently worth a projected £2 trillion a year.
Q2. How will you be greeted at the door?
A. By a robot receptionist which changes appearance to suit your personal preference
B. By a magical mist that infuses you with extra energy
C. By an tablet-based electronic agenda for the day, automatically created from data sets that include your diary, social media, to-do lists and industry news
The correct answer is A. Holographic receptionists will automatically identify staff members, suppliers and clients, suggests futurist Peter Cochrane. They’ll recognise you via biometrics and re-model their appearance accordingly. Great news for people who want to be met by Ryan Reynolds/Angeline Jolie/Su Pollard every morning.
Q3. In the 2013 office, you’re being scanned all the time. Why?
A. To assess your productivity
B. To assess your health
C. To assess your honesty
This time, it’s C. Peter Cochrane speculates that ‘security scanning and real-time behavioural analysis would also include subliminal lie detection and ‘intent prediction’’. So when the CEO asks what you think of her new hairdo, you’d either better really like it or be one heck of a good liar.
Q4. You want to sit down. What do you do?
A. You don’t: sitting down is bad for your health and productivity
B. You take a nearby table that’s made out of malleable nanotechnology and mould it into a nice seat
C. Turn on an air jet that blows up from the floor to support your bottom
The answer is, again, C. Glen Hiemstra, the founder and CEO of Futurist.com, says: ‘The most radical future office forecast is that offices will have no furniture at all – simply flexible nanotech that can be formed into whatever you need at the moment – something to sit on, a desk, or a conference table.’
Q5. How will you make most of your decisions?
A. By asking an Artificial Intelligence assistance
B. By asking an always-online committee of the word’s greatest minds
C. By asking the McKinsey app on your iPhone
The answer’s A. Hiemstra says: ‘Office work will involve a great deal more consulting with artificial intelligence to assist with decisions than what we’ve seen up to now, and rather than AI being the province of the most specialised IT people, everyday work will be engaged with AI decision assistance.”
Q6. What’s that you can see trundling down the corridor?
A. The PottyBot™, a robot designed to improve productivity by allowing workers to relieve themselves at their desk
B. A telepresence robot, which allows remote workers to have a physical manifestation in the office
C. A sealed van, in which workers can smoke whilst moving between workspaces without annoying non-smoking colleagues
It’s actually B. For those wanting to impose themselves on a remote meeting in physical format, telepresence robots controlled by the internet will be an option. (This is according to Christopher Barnatt, Associate Professor of Computing & Future Studies at Nottingham University Business School.) So after your meeting, you’ll kind of be able to take your co-worker/telepresence robot for a coffee, to lunch or even, should you fancy it, to the nearest Travelodge.
Q7. From what are you likely to take your lunch?
A. A 3D printer
B. A lunchbox that can keep food fresh for up to 2 years
C. A machine that gives you dishes based on evaluation of your nutritional deficiencies at the time of ordering
It’s A. For those who would like something on demand, 3D printers will apparently develop to the point of being able to prepare a snack at the touch of a button. It’ll probably taste better than Snack-a-Jacks.
Q8. What’s that drone doing flying round your head?
A. Checking for nits
B. Spraying you with Pro Plus gas
C. Serving tea
This time, it’s C. Tea drinkers will appreciate drone tea trays flying from the kitchen, taking and fetching orders. And managers will appreciate the extra time tea drinkers get to spend at their desks working their poor caffeine-stained fingers to the bone.
Q9. How will Big Brother be watching your toilet break?
A. Cameras in the loos, to discourage naps and drug-taking
B. Swipe-cards on cubicles, so your every toileting minute can be recorded and deducted from your salary
C. Your waste will be analysed by HR departments
Disgustingly, it’s actually C. Toilets will become smarter. They’ll diagnose medical conditions – information will be sent to in-house doctors who can liaise with HR staff and senior management to prepare for long-term absences. Toilet analysis, huh – and you thought HR’s rep couldn’t get any worse.
Q10. Finally, how are you likely to spend your office downtime?
A. Playing computer games that enhance your professional skills
B. Playing with iPets, because stroking them decreases your stress levels
C. Playing around with your management-supplied robot sex partner, because carnal satisfaction increases serotonin which in turn increases productivity
Sorry, got a bit carried away there. The answer is A. Virtual reality gaming machines and headsets will allow employees to plug in and zone out. Depending on their line of work, these games may even be used to keep employee’s skills sharp – such as graphic designers improving their hand-eye coordination or managers honing their problem-solving skills.
Featuring original content from Plusnet