The Working World in 2020: Chaotic Environments


Prognosticators at research firm Gartner have come up with a list of ten big changes the world of work will go through in the next ten years.”Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness, ‘swarming’ and more,” says Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow. “People will work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization,” he said, suggesting big challenges for IT ahead.

Some highlights from the fascinating list:

De-Routinization of Work

The core value that people add is not in the processes that can be automated, but in non-routine processes, uniquely human, analytical or interactive contributions that result in words such as discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning.

Work Swarms

Teams have historically consisted of people who have worked together before and who know each other reasonably well, often working in the same organization and for the same manager. Swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating.

Spontaneous Work

Spontaneity implies more than reactive activity, for example, to the emergence of new patterns. It also contains proactive work such as seeking out new opportunities and creating new designs and models.

Simulation and Experimentation

Active engagement with simulated environments (virtual environments), which are similar to technologies depicted in the film Minority Report, will come to replace drilling into cells in spreadsheets. The contents of the simulated environment will be assembled by agent technologies that determine what materials go together based on watching people work with this content.


Hyperconnectedness will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries, and that has implications for how people work and how IT supports or augments that work.

My Place

Many employees will have neither a company-provided physical office nor a desk, and their work will increasingly happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In this work environment, the lines between personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organization subjects, will disappear.

— Don Willmott