Understanding Work Environments of the Future

What might my future work environment look like?

The covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed how and where people work. Workplaces will continue to evolve. It’s impossible to know what the future holds. But it’s not too early to begin thinking about the type of setting that interests you most and that’s the best match for your personality. Knowing this can guide your choices about areas of study and future job goals.

What’s going on with workplaces today?

Looking at recent workplace trends can start you thinking more deeply about the types of work environments available and what appeals to you. Recent trends include the following:

  • Remote work: People have been working from home for years, but covid-19 made this a common practice across a range of industries. Technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have made remote work easier. 
  • Hybrid work: This is a combination of remote work and on-site work. Employers may dictate which days or hours you work in each location, or they may be flexible and let you set the schedule. 
  • Gig economy: What used to be considered a “side hustle” has become full-time employment for many people. Examples of this type of work include driving for a ride-share or delivery service, tutoring, or doing home repair work. 
  • New technology: Technology, data, and automation are becoming more prevalent across industries. Workplaces rely on computers and technology more than they have in the past.   
  • Globalization: Industries have a more international reach, and clients and employees work and live in multiple countries. These jobs are opportunities for travel and may appeal to people who speak more than 1 language.
  • Employee wellness: Because of the stress of recent years, companies have begun to prioritize employee mental and physical health. This can happen in many ways, including employee bonding activities, added emphasis on time off, and perks to reward excellence.

How do these trends impact the workplace environment?

Understanding which trends affect a given industry can encourage you to ask yourself or others questions like the following about what it would be like to work in that field:  Does this employer allow for remote or hybrid work, or do they expect all work to be done on-site? How computer-driven is the work? Would your work focus be on your local area, or would you interact with people around the world? What would your work-life balance be if you worked in that field?

What does this mean for my future?

Working in an environment that matches your personality and work style is a perfect way to set yourself up for success. But how do you begin to think about what might be best for you, especially if you haven’t had a job yet? Ask yourself these questions. Then consider how the answers point you toward or away from different work environments:

How self-motivated are you? If you’re self-motivated, work from home or be your own boss. If you’re not very self-motivated, you’d do better in a workplace where others keep you accountable.

Do you enjoy a workplace with lots of hustle and bustle? If you answered “yes,” seek jobs in large, busy offices or in a setting that encourages you to interact with customers and clients (e.g., a store or restaurant). If you answered “no,” look into opportunities for working from home or in smaller, quieter locations.

Do you work best alone or with others? Depending on your preference, choose a workplace that allows employees to work more independently or one that emphasizes teamwork.

How computer-focused do you want your work to be? If the answer is that you don’t want to be sitting at a computer for a large part of your day, look into careers that let you interact with people or be outside more often. But if you enjoy technology and computers, search for positions that allow you to use these skills.

As you grow and gain experience, your notion of the ideal workplace will evolve. Remember: You can revisit these questions as often as you’d like.