The World of Work in 2016: Four Scenarios for the Changing Workforce

A new report from the Orange Future Enterprise coalition, entitled “The way to work: space, place and technology in 2016,” predicts four work scenarios by the year 2016. These scenarios include the following:

Disciples of the Cloud

In this first scenario, the report says this world is similar to the living and working environments at many large companies today. Commuting and clear-cut divisions between work and personal time are big elements of this scenario. Most employees’ work productivity is monitored and measured by others in the organization.

Electronic Cottages

This second scenario focuses on telecommuting employees and/or employees who commute a very short distance to a small hub office. In this environment, employees’ work activities are monitored. However, there is a greater emphasis on individuals’ lifestyles, and they are more connected to their local communities.


This third scenario forecasts a freelance work world. For example, the report suggests that few individuals would be directly employed by companies, with most working for two or three companies simultaneously. One key point of this world is that, although people must look after and find work for themselves, the companies must work hard to be attractive to them.

Mutual Worlds

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In this fourth and final scenario, the working world places more emphasis on cooperative work in local communities, as opposed to a “big-business” environment. This would mean an end to commuting and an emphasis on local networking.

A Blend of All Four

According to the report, the most successful companies will be able to balance elements of all four scenarios to keep workers satisfied.

“This report is not about predicting or forecasting the future, but rehearsing for it; creating and exploring multiple possible futures, with the purpose of taking responsibility for what the future holds,” said Robert Ainger, founding member of Orange Future Enterprise Coalition, in a news release.

“Change in business is happening so rapidly, arguably at a faster rate than at any time since the Industrial Revolution. The rate of change can be intimidating, but it creates opportunities. The challenge is asserting some control so businesses can use the situation to their advantage,” he added.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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