December 23, 2008
In 2020, trying to get to work in the snow won't be a big deal
That's because, by 2020, mobile phones will be the predominant way to access the Internet, many corporate meeting spaces will be virtual, and for information workers, work and leisure time will have become so intertwined that we won't give a second thought to working when we're playing or handling personal matters when we're working.
At least that's what respondents to this year's "Future of the Internet" survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said.
A majority of the 1,200 survey respondents (half of which are technology and Internet experts) suggest that office life as we know it -- and all its cubicles, commutes, and start times -- will soon go the way of the dodo. As for the complete blurring of work and life, 57 percent of survey respondents predicted that this change would be a-okay with workers.
According to the survey results, future workers will:
"...blend personal/professional duties wherever they happen to be when they are called upon to perform them -- from their homes, the gym, the mall, a library, and possibly even their company's communal meeting space, which may exist in a new virtual-reality format."
Those respondents in favor of such shifts in how we work say the benefits include "more freedom, flexibility, better mental health, and positive life-improvement" (which, in case anyone's wondering, rank among the biggest reasons people go into business for themselves).
As for the naysaying respondents, they worry that such "mobility and ubiquity will be a burden in an always-on world that causes stress and the disintegration of family and social life." They also fret that this on-call, freelance-ish way of working will "include oppressive surveillance by bosses and government."
Putting aside the fact that these are just speculations, I'd love to know what you think: Would shedding your office in favor of a predominantly virtual workspace be an improvement in your life? Or would the cabin fever our snowed-in city is collectively experiencing right now pale in comparison to how stir crazy you'd be if you didn't have an office to go every day?
Also, how much shedding of your standard work schedule are you willing to endure? Is the ability to cut out of work a couple mornings a week to socialize or run errands in exchange for having your dinner or walk around Green Lake interrupted by a work call a trade-off you're willing to make?
And finally, freelancers, if employees wind up with all the flexibility and telecommuting perks that we now have, would you consider working for one employer again?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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