Goodbye wired desks. Hello wearable wireless networks.
Five years from now, the phrase "chained to your desk" will sound positively antique. You may be spending only 40 percent of your workday in the office, 40 percent at home and 20 percent in the "third place" - Starbucks, the park, your local Internet café, or, really, anywhere, because wireless connections will be ubiquitous.
PDAs and other devices will make the blurring of work/life boundaries even more common than it is today. You'll "attend" meetings, participate in business learning simulations, travel to distant places, and create digital clones or avatars to be your representatives in virtual worlds. You will be judged not by the time you put in, but by the results you produce.
As the boomers decide to rewire instead of retire, your work team will consist of four generations - creating "gray ceilings" for Generations X and Y waiting to move up. Those younger generations will increasingly insist on meaningful work that is done anytime and anyplace, using the technology they grew up with. Time will become the new currency, and for many younger people it will serve as a tradeoff for money.
With the U.S. facing a talent shortage, your organization may be made up of ad-hoc networks of workers around a small core. Many workers will be free agents, selling their services and negotiating pay through an international network of brokers - some of the outsourced HR people of today.
But nothing will compare to the surprises waiting for you in 35 years. By 2042, there will be no "workplace" as we know it. Goodbye wired desks; hello wireless personal wearable networks. It will be difficult to even talk about your "dream job" since 70 percent of the job types you might pursue do not exist today, and 80 percent of the technology is not invented yet.
Your younger colleagues will have 10 careers in their lifetime, so loyalty will be to the profession, not to the employer. Work will feel like a Hollywood movie in which managers, directors, and team members come together around a specific project, collaborate intensely and then disband. The new employment contract will say, "I will stay as long as it's a good deal for me."
The jobs that do exist will demand problem-solving, managing teams of global virtual people, and creating new ways to make life easier. To get the work done, outsourcing and "homeshoring" will be common. Some of you will outsource some of your work to concierge-type assistants in India and other countries who will perform tasks while you sleep.
In short, flexibility will mean "my job, my way" - flexibility with your time, the content of your work, and the pace of your career. The benefits that employers offer will change dramatically too, to a "my perks, my way" approach. One size will not fit all four generations.