Smart Workplace 2040: The Future of Work


Teenagers of today will work in a radically different way 25 years from now –When and where they work, will be up to them

The world of work has undeniably changed in the last 25 years. Imagine taking a look into the future of the workplace, 25 years from now. Working virtually will be the norm and going to an office will be a reward, something to look forward to. The next generation of digital knowledge employees, or digeratis, will have grown up around technology. In 2040, it will affect every aspect of their lives. According to a new report called “Smart Workplace 2040” by CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, future employees will be in complete control of where, how and when they work. The research includes a summary of the day in the life of an employee named Nina.

Born at the turn of the new millennium, Nina has never known a world without the Internet. She, and others like her, have high expectations around choice, experience and fluidity when it comes to work. She operates like today’s entrepreneurs, relying on collaboration with experts and she isn’t tied to any specific office. For Nina and millions of other digerati employees, work is something she does, not a place that she travels to every day.

Choice and Flexibility Shape the Workplace of the Future

Nina doesn’t commute to work. Her patterns of work are radical compared with today’s; they aren’t fixed around a place or timetable. Part of a new generation of workspace consumers, she chooses exactly where she wants to work. Her work schedule is fluid; she often works at home and sometimes with co-workers on an Eco-Campus. When Nina wants to reward herself she can choose to visit a ‘Trophy Workplace’ where she can meet colleagues to network in a highly experiential environment. In 2040, the typical 9-to-5-work schedule is a thing of the past.

So far so good for employees, but what about employers?

Dr. Kjetil Kristensen , adjunct associate professor in collaborative engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and co-author of the Smart Workplace 2040 report comments, “Employers and employees need to align their contrasting definitions and perceptions of what productivity is. For employers, this may involve seeing people interact. Employees may view individual production as a more tangible metric. Greater transparency and maturity will be required from both to determine what productivity looks like in the new flexible working world. If employers and employees work together in an unrestricted, collaborative manner, incremental changes will gradually yield dramatic results and herald unprecedented levels of productivity.”

What does this mean for workplace recruitment?

It’s not just about how we work, but how we recruit. The war for talent is already in full swing. Companies are fighting to attract the best knowledge workers, who place increasingly high premiums on their work-life balance and prioritize wellness.

Nina explains how this will play out in 2040: her work-life balance is, in effect, one characterized by flexibility, choice and empowerment. No two days are the same for her. She can choose to work wirelessly from home, or visit a shared workplace for a sense of belonging and to collaborate with like digeratis. Nina doesn’t have the time or inclination for a fixed, rigid routine with a long commute. Her personal health and quality of life are an absolute priority.


The turmoil of change we are facing toward 2040 calls for a major transformation in the way we manage workplaces.

  • Human Resources – Working patterns in 2040 will flex to meet private needs and family constraints. Implement flexwork contracts to enhance the mobility of employees and entrepreneurs, and get rid of the 9-to-5-work model to meet employee expectations.
  • Organizational Structures – No longer can employers rely on a single location to carry out company work. Train senior managers to work with a highly dispersed team across a wide geographical area and equip them with advanced technological and software solutions.
  • Health – The focus on health and wellness has been a major shift for our society. Focus on providing health services in the workplace or at close proximity to sustain the well-being of employees highly affected by burn out syndromes in 2040.
  • Technology – Employees expect highly mobile technology solutions. Adopt packaged solutions, on-demand resources and cloud services to sustain high productivity and empower work patterns.

For more information on the workplace of the future and how your business can evolve to meet the demands of Smart Workplace 2040, visit 

 About the Author

Lewis Beck, Director of Workplace Strategy Consulting, CBRE – Lewis has 15 years experience in the property, workplace and consultancy and customer relationship management arenas. He has  extensive experience of property strategy development and helping global organizations to deliver and sustain productive and efficient working environments.

Join the conversation: #SW2040 • @GWSworkplace

Reference: CBRE Smart Workplace 2040 Report:



One comment

  1. This is very interesting and food for thought. Brian Robertson’s Holacracy may well be the norm at the time for working and compensation, without hierarchy. It’s just way before its time, and the only big gun to bite the bullet now is Tony Hsieh.

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