It is 2030. Out, is the morning and afternoon commute to a workplace in the CBD. In, is working short bursts of time throughout the day from home or a cafe.
To some a dream, to others a nightmare. To well-known demographer Bernard Salt it is simply the future of work.
In a nod to the sponsors of his latest report, NBN Co – the company building the national broadband network – Salt says the next generation of workers, or “GenNBN”, will fit work into times and locations that suit them rather than fit their lifestyle around work.
“That is the promise of high-speed broadband and this is an aspiration that fits comfortably with the Australian penchant for lifestyle,” he enthuses in Towards a super connected Australia GenNBN: understanding Australia’s most connected generation.
According to Salt, fast broadband will enable high-definition video conferencing and turn the minority of employees who currently work from home into the majority. And tethered to the internet all their lives, GenNBN will see no need to confine work to the traditional nine-to-five work day.
Salt says: “It may be that by 2030 for example large Australian cities are configured differently in terms of work. The CBD is still important but why commute to a CBD workplace? Why not telecommute? Why commute for a meeting when you could use high-definition and multi-line video conferencing? Why not combine telecommuting with occasional face-to-face collaboration in touch-down offices? Why not work from home or from the beach house or from a café wherever possible?
“If work is increasingly measured by deliverables then what does it matter if that deliverable is delivered over three bursts of work completed over 24 hours? The lifestyle opportunity that may be delivered by Australia’s new broadband network is the ability to time shift; to work when and where we want to work.”
Salt concedes the ability to time shift might turn out to be a burden as well as boon for many employees.
“The challenge of this lifestyle might be to contain work. If work can be shuffled then for some personalities there are no boundaries to work. A challenge of this highly connected ‘always-on’ world may be defining boundaries and setting clear timeframes on when is ‘work time’ and when is ‘non-work time’,” he says.