I recently read an interesting article on Time about the future of work. I think a lot of the time we’re all so entrenched in what we’re currently doing that we view things as just the way they are. However, as the Time article writes about, Facebook didn’t exist a little over a decade ago. Google wasn’t a thing until the end of the 90s and the internet wasn’t even widespread until the early 90s. Things have changed drastically in my lifetime and the speed at which these changes seem to be happening is ever increasing. It’s always difficult to predict the future, but there are some trends that will (in my eyes) undoubtedly grow stronger as we surge forward.
Hierarchies in the private sphere are dying. The rise in success of flat organizations is becoming more commonplace and it’s not difficult to see why. Large, hierarchical organizations are not nimble. They’re massive, lumbering giants without the agility and ability to change direction swiftly. Flatter organizations are quick to adapt to problems and tend to use agile approaches to ensure that the customer is receiving the product/service that works for them. It’s even easier for small companies to change direction because there’s far less in the way of human resources and technical debt to manage. This has contributed greatly to the fact that small and medium enterprises have done much better adding jobs to the economy in recent times than larger ones. Expect to see ecosystems of smaller companies working to support one another become commonplace and massive hierarchies go the way of the dinosaur.
Secondly, remote workers are becoming the norm. There will always be a place for office space in the world, especially because I believe that small teams tend to work better than distributed individuals, but companies will have offices in many cities. The teams in each location will be smaller and they’ll link up together to further their product/service. The world has become a very small place thanks to the internet. Searches for talent don’t need to be restricted to a specific city or even a specific country anymore. At TheCodeFactory one of the companies (Blindside Networks) has their head office here in Ottawa with one team present and another office in Brazil where another team resides. For the most part the two offices work remotely from one another, but it does give a great excuse to visit each other’s countries now and then!
The rise of small companies and remote teams seems to be an assured reality going forward. However, the largest and most society altering changes tend to be ones that weren’t foreseen until they take hold. I for one am excited to see how the world changes as we go forward.