When we talk about a better future, what do we mean? Our latest guest on the Future of Work, Now podcast shares that this question helped lead him to a career as a futurist.
That guest is Peter Schwartz, American futurist, innovator, author, and co-founder of the Global Business Network. He is also SVP of Strategic Planning for Salesforce. Peter’s first book, The Art of the Long View, is considered a seminal publication on scenario planning. He has also served as a script consultant on the films The Minority Report, Deep Impact, Sneakers, and War Games.
Peter talks about these experiences in the first episode of our podcast’s new season on the Digital Imperative. He also offers his view on how we may live and work in the future.
Here are key takeaways from Peter’s conversation with host Simone Heng:
Many businesses are in a state of transition. They are considering when, and to what extent, employees will return to the office. Peter shared his view that whatever happens, the workplace won’t be exactly the same as it was before.
"When the pandemic hit, the world changed course into the future and it changed the calculus of what we do from home as compared to what we do in the office or in the classroom, shop, or doctors’ office,” said Peter. “We’re working, learning, shopping, and even socialising remotely and while we’re learning these new behaviours, the technology is radically improving.”
Peter predicted that video conferencing will be considerably better in one year from now. There will also be new technologies for applications like learning, medicine, and socialisation.
“There’s a great wave of innovation that is going to make it much more desirable to do things remotely.”
So what will daily life look like for workers? Peter painted a picture of a world where technology is gradually wrapped around us and enables us to work from anywhere. This could include the home, the car, or even the beach. It could also include a casual studio space that can be booked by the hour.
“I think every worker who can do their job remotely will have a suite of technology around them that enables them to work wherever they want, whenever they want. I can also see homes having a personal studio room with good lightning, good sound, and good screens that can be used for work and education," said Peter.
Of course not everyone will want or be able to afford these rooms in their home, so you can imagine a lot of empty office space becoming casual studio space."
More broadly, now is a time for human beings to adapt or, in Peter’s words, reimagine, reinvent, and relocate.
“Some of us are now able to rethink our lives and not be trapped by the choices we made in the past. Instead, we can make new choices and create new options for ourselves,” he said.
Almost everything we do at work, we do with other people. So no matter where we work, collaboration will remain vital and will need to extend beyond emails and conference calls. The tools of collaboration will have to evolve and Peter identifies this as the most apparent workplace trend shaping the future.
“We have recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire Slack and that is all about enabling teams to collaborate very creatively,” said Peter. “We’re also seeing other tools of collaboration in the workplace, including online white boards and tools for brainstorming. These tools and the ability to collaborate and engage with our colleagues and customers is what I see as most exciting about the future of work.”
Listen to the podcast to hear more from Peter, including his tips on how businesses can future-proof themselves.
Tune in at 1:00 p.m. SGT Friday, March 5 to hear from our next guest, Stuart Thornton, CEO & Co-founder of hoolah, a Singapore-based fintech company.
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