What telework might look like in 10 years

Chris Knotts is vice president of technology and innovation at Force 3, an IT services provider for government agencies.

I have good news for government agencies wrestling with how to implement and maintain effective telework policies and procedures: In 10 years, the word “telework” will feel as outdated as a rotary phone.

Knowledge workers won’t telework. They’ll simply work in whatever location makes the most sense. As I look out at the evolving technology landscape, I have 10 predictions for what the future holds.

1. Wireless carriers will increase to wired speed. The next evolution of mobile technology will bring the speed of wireless carriers in line with wired networks. Along the way, a security breakthrough will occur that will change the way we access information and ease hacking concerns dramatically.

2. We’ll be online all the time. The idea of “getting online” will seem antiquated. There will be no more hot spots or network connections. The network will simply be there — and we’ll be on it.

3. Tablets will replace desktop and laptop PCs. Desktop and laptop PCs will be supplanted by tablet PCs that are micro-thin and foldable. Picture a foldable smart phone that expands to a 20-, 30- or 50-inch screen. The new devices will have an on/off button but no more fans or moving parts. Because we’ll be accessing more information and applications in the cloud, the need to store data on the devices will decrease dramatically.

4. Everything will move to the cloud. Every application that we access will be in the cloud, and people will no longer store anything locally. In other words, you will have a hard drive, but it won’t be part of your computer.

5. There will be no more boxed software. What got the big software vendors to 2011 will not get them to 2021. I believe all software will transition to a service-based approach.

6. Text messaging is here to stay. Text messaging fits the way we work and live incredibly well. Therefore, even as networks and devices evolve, the practice of sending short text messages will endure.

7. 3-D video will become the norm. 3-D technology is mainly seen as a novelty now, but in 10 years, most teleconferences will be conducted with 3-D video. Imagine working from a home office and taking part in a 3-D video conference with colleagues and partners from around the globe. Workers are going to have to shower and dress for that one!

8. There will be no more Bluetooth. The image of someone walking around with a Bluetooth device sticking out of his or her ear will feel outdated by 2021. Those gadgets will be replaced by embedded audio in or on our ears (or somewhere else on our body).

9. Holdouts will proliferate. Not everyone will want to be on the grid all the time. I believe we’ll see a growing subculture of people who reject technology and form niche communities or companies.

10. The generation gap will get bigger. Previous generations will struggle more than younger generations as the workplace of the future evolves. The next generation of employees will not see the workplace as a focal point of social interaction. Being able to work will suffice, and they won’t feel that they need to be in the same place as their co-workers.

Right now, what’s holding many agencies back from telework are issues of control and trust in their employees. But as technology and human expectations evolve, telework will simply become “work,” with a greater responsibility placed on the individual to manage the balance between personal and professional time.

About the Author

Chris Knotts is vice president of technology and innovation at Force 3, an IT services provider for government agencies. He can be reached at [email protected]


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