Based on current trends, I expect than in 2030, the work day will be 23.5 hours long, and each company will have exactly one engineering employee, who, in addition to design, will also be responsible for prototyping, testing, manufacturing, equipment maintenance, quality assurance, purchasing, sales, marketing, accounting, human resources, and food service.
20 years ago, my high school careers teacher was still pushing that in the future that the leisure industry would be high dollars. She pushed Hotel Management over Engineering to most students. With the downturn in the economy and reduction of leisure spending, I wonder if she feels a little guilty.
As for the workplace 20 years from now, thing are so mobile now that there is less and less reason for central computing or main offices. There may be a resurgence of the home office that employers would allow designers to work at home while being at work.
Nice article, Lauren. I agree with Chuck that work is likely to move more and more into the home. Work from home has environmental advantages as well as time advantages, both of which will probably increase in importance. IT tools will probably move toward touch screens and away from the keyboard. Except for journalists, of course, who will probably stay tied to the keyboard.
Good point about portability, NadineJ. If the trend toward portability continues, I wonder what percentage of employees will work at home, and what effect that will have on huge business centers, such as downtown New York City or Chicago.
It depends on where you are located in the world. The growing population with still need goods manufactured cheaply, food grown, services met. In other words, 2030 being only 17 years away might not be much different than now. Countless people slaving in factories in China/India/poorer countries, while the rest of the world works directly or indirectly for the service industry.
As I have worked in offices and locations that seemed not to have evolved past the 1970s, around 50 years later, I don't see much of a change coming.
I do believe that the BYOD, bring your own device, trend in the workplace today will change how much we all are tied to our various jobs. As an engineer, I design and perform test, which I can do anywhere. There have been plenty of times where I did my work remotely, I tacked more work for sure this way. Since higher-ups want to keep tabs on what their employees are doing, the demand for them to be present during work hours will still remain.
For perspective; I know a person who worked for a company that had a large manufacturing side. Over the time I was there, they moved those jobs outside the company (Some inside and outside the USA). Then it was just us engineers. Then those departments were consolidated and partially replaced with overseas engineers (India). This was over the course of a few years. All parties involved, the work place change depended on where you were located.
This is a nice exercise in re-designing the workplace. Variations on cubicles.
I would have liked to see what students came up with when really thinking about how the actual work day would change. Not just, the work space.
40 years ago, we thought there would be more leisure time by 2012. What happened was that work became portable. Americans especially work more than ever before with less leisure time. There's no cubicle re-design that could have predicted that.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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