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    A memo from Martin Kula: the future of work

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    Do you ever work during the weekend? Do you work from home or away from your office? Are you employed on a part-time basis? If you aren’t already, according to a thought-provoking new white paper, you soon could be. The Future of Work report indicates that by 2015 more than 40 per cent of us will be working an additional 15-20 hours a week, simply because technology enables (or forces) us to. In fact, a combination of the internet, new technology, the huge increase in mobile or home working, part-time jobs and today’s 24/7 culture means most people now spend more time working than sleeping. Indeed, our work and personal lives are blurring ever faster, as 35 per cent of us now work at weekends and even during our holidays.

    These changes have already made a huge impact to the working environment, so to mark Esselte’s 100th anniversary, we decided to look forward to the next few decades. Richard Watson and Andrew Crosthwaite of Futures House Europe were commissioned to examine the key factors driving changes in the office, the way we work and why these effects are accelerating. Their findings make compelling reading, showing how we’ve moved from typing pools, carbon copies and careers for life towards today’s multi-purpose mobile devices, remote working, portfolio careers and employees as brands working in ‘pop-up’ hub offices.

    The overall conclusions of the report suggest the traditional office is slowly dying and we will soon all be working even more flexibly. The report talks about attending meetings by hologram, which may eventually mean less time organising travel schedules, although I suspect we will have to wait a while for this development to materialise.

    Today, paper is far from dead; the average office worker still produces 10,000 sheets a year. There is no doubt, however, that mobile working and new technology means smart phones and tablets have moved into the business mainstream. This is set to continue and the ‘mobile stack’ of equipment we all carry around already averages 3.5 devices. For us personally, this has meant launching a range of products focused on professionals using mobile devices as business tools. That’s quite a change for a company that has spent the last 100 years manufacturing lever arch files.

    The last big modification of the way we work is in demographics: who will be doing this work? As well as older people mixing with youngsters, one area that really stands out is the role of women in the workforce. According to Goldman Sachs, if we were to eliminate the gap between male and female employment it could boost GDP by nine per cent in the US, 13 per cent in the Eurozone and 16 per cent in Japan.

    This paper underlines that innovation, collaboration and more efficient organisation of the way we work is the route to the successful workplace of the 21st century – whatever and wherever that is. Work is no longer where the office is; it’s wherever we are: be that our car, home, coffee shop, airport or even on holiday. The future of work is changing and everyone needs to make sure they’re flexible, adaptable and ready for what is to come.

    Martin Kula is the Vice-President of Marketing for the Esselte Corporation. Esselte is one of the world’s premier manufacturers of office products, with annual sales in excess of $1 billion and subsidiaries in 29 countries. The company owns a number of brands, including Leitz, Rapid, Esselte, Pendaflex, Ampad and Xyron; find out more at esselte.com

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson