Will The Office Become Extinct By 2037?

In 20 years the world will undergo some dramatic changes, impacting the every aspect of our lives, from where we work to how we get our medical care. Some of the changes we might see in the future include pre-emptive crime prevention, offices becoming extinct, and as artificial intelligence rises, so will the need for more female attributes such as emotional intelligence. These are the findings of a new report by the Virgin Group — Future Visions — which explores what the world of business will look like in 20 years’ time.

future visions
Haptic technology allows for operations to be controlled with brainwave technology, so a doctor in London can operate on a patient in New York. (PRNewsfoto/Virgin Management)

Through Future Visions’ research, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, and his team brought together six of today’s greatest futurists, technologists, business pioneers, and strategists to create a vision of the future. Dr James Bellini, Araceli Camargo, Cindy Gallop, Ben Hammersley, Tracey Follows, and Peter Smith all shared their predictions on what the entrepreneurs of tomorrow need to be considering today.

What The Future Holds

The future is often viewed with the doom and gloom of mass-unemployment, marginalization, and poor health, which many attribute to rapid technological developments. However, Future Visions’ work lays out a new vision of a more inclusive, intellectual, and well-rounded society.

Virgin’s Future Vision report findings include:

  • The office will be no more, and communities will value interaction more than ever. It will be a high technology, low geography society as technology removes the need for a fixed location of work. People will work where they want, when they want. You will be able to log into any networked computer terminal in the world to access your cloud based company, allowing you to do the same job in Reading or Rio.
  • Diversity equals profits. In an increasingly connected global community, race, gender, and sexual discrimination within the business world will be a thing of the past. Companies with diverse recruitment processes will prosper as they will have a richer bank of opinions, in turn increasing productivity and profits.
  • Haptic technology will allow us to control technology through our brainwaves. Surgeons will be able to perform brain and heart surgery from anywhere in the world, and architects will visualize their own designs immediately
  • Rise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will create AI Doctors. AI Doctors will be able to pre-diagnose patients using their cloud-based profile. AI will also change the type of skills we need, placing greater importance in the workplace for “female” attributes such as emotional intelligence.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will become the Internet of Everything. Data points across everything you use will help companies stock up your fridge or send you replacement lightbulbs before you know you need them. This same data will be used by security services to analyze human behavior and pre-emptively stop possible criminal activity.
  • Companies will put purpose on the balance sheet. Companies will integrate purpose into their business plan, it won’t only be about bank profits but how the world and its citizens can profit. The Trip Advisors of tomorrow won’t just score on how good a meal tasted or how nice a hotel was, but how the food was sourced and the hotel’s SKA rating. (SKA is an environmental assessment tool for sustainable buildings)
  • Finite resources will evolve. Traditional industries will utilize technology to adapt and conquer current challenges. Farming will revolutionize with vertical above ground and below ground growing which will be aided by advancements in LED lighting, resulting in a rise in inner city farms.

Some visions of the future are already being realized today: Remote working is on the rise, as is unlimited leave with companies like Virgin Management and Netflix offering it to their employees. More and more businesses are already putting purpose at the heart of their business models: the corporate world has grown a conscience and this trend is set to explode over the next 20 years.

“Now more than ever before in our history fresh ideas become stale very quickly,” said Branson. “New innovations are altering the way we work and live at an unprecedented speed. It is important we prepare our future entrepreneurs for what’s coming round the corner. This is why we gathered six brilliant minds from across industry to come up with our best answer of what the future will be like. We will help guide our future entrepreneurs and pave the way for what lies ahead.

“It’s a future where AI will assist us in our day to day life,” Branson added. “Where battery technology will have advanced so far that we’ll have electric planes and where data will allow us to predict health problems, crime, and weather.”

The Future Vision findings will be presented in a series of essays and a six-part podcast series, with each contributor exploring their own vision of the surreal world of tomorrow. Episode one by Dr. James Bellini, “Could human hearts really come from a 3D printer?” is available now for download via Acast or iTunes.