New Zealand in 2040... Impact of tech on the workplace

In 25 years’ time, the work colleague you chat to at the water cooler might be a hologram...

In 25 years’ time, the work colleague you chat to at the water cooler might be a hologram, your daily coffee fix may arrive at your office by drone and the plumber that turns up to fix a leak might be a robot.

That's the view of MYOB Chief Technology Officer Simon Raik-Allen, following the release of the company's ‘Future of Business Report: New Zealand 2040’, a special report examining the future of business and work over the next 25 years, as well as the impact of a number of developing technologies.

The report features a range of perspectives, including views on the future from Federated Farmers, the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Microsoft and an international futurist.

Raik-Allen says technology will transform the way we work, but those changes will be driven by the rising cost of energy and transport and the need to manage impacts on the environment.

“The biggest invention to change the workforce since email will be the holographic representation of people,” Raik-Allen says.

“We will work in a ‘shared workplace’ that will be set up so that you can interact with holographic people from all around the world.

"You may never meet the people you work for in person, because you will be pitching your ideas to a global workforce.”

According to Raik-Allen, 2040 will also herald the decade of thought activation and mind control.

“You won’t just be wearing your technology," he explains. "You will be able to have chips embedded in your body, that interface with various parts of your body to either report on your health so you can manage your food and vitamin intake, or send signals to various organs to help regulate your body.

"Extremely tiny robots known as nanobots will crawl through your veins performing maintenance.

“Your brain will be also start to be integrated and there will be many things you can control just by thinking about them. You might even be able to purchase brain add-ons, just like you buy apps today for your phone.”

Raik-Allen says the idea of money will also be revolutionised.

“You will be able to transact and be paid by internet-based crypto-currencies, which will be governed by independent bodies, such as associations and corporations, rather than governments," he adds.

"Any business will be able to make its own currency – to buy and sell at values regulated by the market and at the perceived value of the company.

“As this trend develops, exchanges of currencies, much like we have today, will arise entirely independent of national economies.”

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Suburban Village

Raik-Allens believes the focus of 2040 will be the ‘suburban village’ – with everyone living and working primarily within walking distance of their homes. Communities will pool their resources and share, he says.

“You’ll be able to trade with your neighbours, list your skills on local noticeboards, and find local experts to fix anything from your 3D printer to an ailing solar panel," he adds.

"Autonomous vehicles such as drones and self-driving cars will deliver packages between communities or even a coffee and a bagel to your current location.

“Much of the suburban park land will become communal farming land to provide vegetables and fruit to the local community without the need for delivery trucks.”

In order to prepare your business for the future, it’s important to start now, says Raik-Allen.

“The Future of Business report was created by MYOB in order to stimulate discussion and planning in the workplace, so people will start thinking about preparing for the future, now," he adds.

“The first step you can take towards being successful in 2040 is to think about how you can make your business data-driven.

"First, get some accounting software and get comfortable with the charting so you can see at a glance how your invoicing, debt recovery and payments are tracking.

"Next, automate as much of your data entry as possible so your business flows with as little human intervention as possible.

"There are lots of neat features along those lines that already exist and that will prepare your business for the next 25 years.”