By 2040, we will have experienced a major shift in the way we work. Transactionally every business interaction will be formalised, automated and digitised, but the biggest impact will be on what we currently call ‘the workplace’.

The changes will be enabled by technology, but they will be driven by the rising cost of energy and transport, which will dictate that our social interactions are localised to keep the impact on the environment to a minimum.

Live locally, work globally

The focus of 2040 will be the ‘suburban village’. You will live, work, eat and learn primarily within walking distance of your house. Communities will start to pool their resources and share. Councils will split into smaller enclaves. The suburban and community websites, involved with borrowing and trading goods, will be in full swing in 25 years. You’ll be able to trade with your neighbours, list your skills on local noticeboards, and find local experts to fix an ailing solar panel. Drones will deliver packages between communities or even a coffee and a bagel to your current location.

Rather than the office, or even the remote workspace, localised centres will emerge as the home of business – giant warehouses, which are used by employees from many different companies, spread around the globe. These will be based around suburbs or communities, as a response to the growing expense of constructing traditional inner-city office buildings.

These lightweight, inter-suburban work centres will house the technology that makes the interconnected workplace possible. Within each will be rooms filled with giant wall-sized screens allowing us to work in a fully virtual, telepresence model. Banks of 3D printers would be continually churning out products ordered by the local community.

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