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What will work look like in 2030? What can we learn from the Millennials generation who have never known a world without smartphones, Facebook, Wikipedia and ubiquitous Internet access? What are the trends we can observe today that will reshape the work environment of the future? And how can we best prepare ourselves and our organizations for inventing the future of work together?

 

These questions were put to a group of SAP employees, customers, partners and other organizations during a two-day workshop held at SAP Labs Palo Alto in March 2012. This group of about 30 persons identified trends, profiles of future users, white spots, paths for change and even created a number of low-fidelity mockups of what the work environment of the knowledge worker of the future might be.

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The aim of such an exercise is not to forecast what the future will be – although a HANA-powered crystal ball would certainly look fancy. Our objective is to come up with user-centric design guidelines that SAP and the entire SAP ecosystem can use for designing future products and services.

 

This Future of Work workshop was facilitated by Stanford University's Foresight and Innovation Program. The methodology used in the workshop (photos here) is a set of surprisingly simple and powerful tools which alternate expanding and focusing the participants' thinking about the future.

 

Some of the recurring themes we identified: The freedom to choose when and where to work. Interacting with machines as if they were work colleagues. Learning on the job and all the time. Empowering employees to leverage social networks without putting their employer at risk. Managing human resources in the future. Personalized filtering and curating of information. Creating new employment models - and still being able to explain to your mum what it is you do at work.

 

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But they were only 30 persons in the room, and we have 2 million users here on SCN! So now we would like you to add your voice to this conversation about the Future of Work: do you see those changes at work around you? What is your organization already doing to address the challenges of the Future of Work? How do you prepare yourself for the Future of Work? Heard about a great story about a great product or service that has "the future built into it"?

 

Here's how we are going to do it: over the next weeks we will go through a number of topics relevant for the Future of Work. We will start next week with the theme When do we work? From 9-to-5 to Always On. For each topic, we will post background material and a short analysis of what the trends at work are, and what we think possible futures may result.

 

Let's get started right away: tell us in the comments below what  trends affecting work you would like to discuss with the SCN community. New technology, societal changes, changes in the business environment, demographics, etc. How does your company go about planning for the future? And more importantly, what would you like the future of work to be?

 

Update: Here is the up-to-date list of Future of Work posts, with more coming!

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