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Conventional workplace in decline, claims report

30 July 2014 

Only 14 per cent of UK workers want to work in a traditional office environment in the future, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). 


The findings based on the accountancy giant’s survey of 10,000 workers and 500 HR professionals globally found that one in five people say they want to work in a ‘virtual’ place where they can log on from any location or use collaborative work spaces.

The research found that a quarter of UK workers believe that traditional employment won’t be around in the future.

People’s desire to break free from the traditional office environment suggests that the way of working in the future could change dramatically and organisations need to prepare for this shift, according to the report. 

Those surveyed believe that they will have their own brands and sell their skills to those who need them. 

The report states that one potential consequence is that organisations will fragment into looser networks of autonomous, often specialised operations. 

Technology will be increasingly used to bring people together, often on a task-by-task basis, the report suggests.

Workers’ lack of interest in working in an office reflects the growing desire among many of them to have more flexibility and varied challenges by working freelance or as a contractor for a number of organisations.

The report shows that many HR professionals are already preparing for this shift towards more portfolio careers, as they predict that at least 20 per cent of their workforce will be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022. 

Nearly a third of HR professionals are building their talent strategies around the rise of the portfolio career, hiring a diverse mix of people on an affordable, ad hoc basis.

Jon Andrews, UK HR consulting leader at PwC, said: “It’s clear from our research that traditional nine to five office working could soon become resigned to history for many workers. People feel strongly that they no longer want to work within the constraints of the typical office environment and advances in technology mean that workers no longer have to be shackled to their desks.”

He added: “We predict that many organisations will embrace these changes in employee working preferences and use them to their own advantage. We could easily see the rise of organisations that have a core team that embodies the philosophy and values of the company, but the rest of the workforce is not fixed and come in and out on a project-by-project basis. These companies will make extensive use of technology to run their businesses, coordinate a largely external workforce and support their relationships with third parties.”

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