Reinventing the Workplace


A futurologist, not to be confused with a futurist, refers to an artist of the 1900s artist movement – Futurism. There are some crossovers. Both adore tech and love speed. Critically, a futurologist writes, speaks, and studies trends to forecast the future. Richard Watson, Futurist-In-Residence at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre, says that “proper futurism sits somewhere between 10 to 20 years out.” A prediction about three to five years ahead is basically “talking about next Wednesday,” and “more than 20 years gets into sci-fi,” said Watson.

A Racounter article explains that futurologists tend to be widely read and study trends to understand where the world is going next. Watson says futurologists are “not going to get it 100% right, but you hopefully avoid being 100% wrong.”

The last few years and the pandemic have brought tremendous changes in our daily lives. “Few business leaders, who I am intimately aware of, seem to do anything other than react. That may have to do with the speed of change,” says Mark Landini, Creative Director of Landini Associates. Watson poses that “the innovative companies don’t worry about what is going to happen. They’re creating their own future, and everyone else can fall in line with it.”

Remote work has become the norm and is widely expected. However, the concept isn’t as new as we think. Landini referenced an interview with Arthur C. Clarke, in which he predicted the possibility of remote meetings more than fifty years ago. Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve adapted to remote opportunities. “We’ve been forced to be less physical, and within a few months, we’ve decided that we quite like that,” said Landini. The Economist reported that “before the pandemic, Americans spent 5% of their working time at home. By spring 2020, the figure was 60%.”

Watson pointed out that many trends made mainstream by the pandemic were already happening on a smaller scale. Watson explains, “I fail to think of a single thing with the pandemic that wasn’t happening already.” However, the pandemic acted as a global catalyst and sped up the adoption of trends. Challenges in the workplace as things return to normal, including conflicting needs and desires between managers and workers. We’re at a stage where we have to “find a sweet spot between generations,” said Watson. Recreating symbiosis between different work styles is key to progress and success in a business.

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