What the Workplace Could Look Like in 2022: Report

Researchers suggest that the need to adapt will be key to any company’s survival

The future of the workplace could look a lot more like 1984.

Consulting firm PwC published its predictions for work in 2022 and some of the outcomes, while jarring, might not be too far-fetched.

Based on interviews with 500 human resource experts and 10,000 people in China, India, Germany, the UK and the U.S., the report details how developments in the workplace will affect the future of people management.

Researchers from PwC and the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at the Said Business School in Oxford have projected three possible workplace developments which they call “three worlds of work.”

One world, titled the “Blue World,” predicts big company capitalism rules as organization continues to grow bigger and individual preferences trump beliefs about social responsibility.

“The data profiling that drives customer management will increasingly be replicated among employees as screening and monitoring move to a new level,” researchers wrote. “Sensors check their location, performance and health. The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests.”

Among the monitoring of private lives would be frequent health screenings to allow “real-time monitoring of health, with proactive health guidance and treatment to enable staff to perform more efficiently, reduce sick leave and work for more years before needing to retire.”

Researchers suggest that in exchange for handing over such data to employers, employees will have better job security.

This dystopian prediction might not be such a far-fetched idea when considering the monitoring technological advances have allowed and will continue to allow as innovation continues.

The study found that three out of 10 participants, many of them younger in age, would be happy for their employers to have access to their personal data and 44 percent of survey respondents felt the most important thing in a job was job security.

Other “worlds” listed in the study include the “Green World,” which predicts consumers and employees will force change, encouraging companies to develop a “powerful social conscience and green sense of responsibility” and the “Orange World,” where global business fragment and technology empowers a “low impact, high-tech business model.”

“The effectiveness with which your organization plans people management for the long-term will be critical to its long-term viability, ensuring you have the right people, with the right skills, in the right places to realize your evolving goals. Think too much in the short-term and you may find yourself on the back foot, unable to catch up with sudden shifts in your marketplace,” researchers wrote.

While it’s not clear which world, if any, will become the new workplace, researchers suggest that the need to adapt will be key to any company’s survival.

"No exploration of the future of work could ever be definitive," Michael Rendell, head of PwC, wrote in the study. "Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of our age is its ability to surprise and confound. However, while things happen that we cannot predict, we can still be prepared."

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