If you’ve ever wondered, during moments of quiet reflection, about how the offices of the future would look, you should stop immediately. The truth is, I have looked into the next century already, and can report that workspaces will look just like the sci-fi writers of today have always thought. Put simply, if you’ve ever watched Star Trek, Dr Who or Star Wars, you will have already seen them for yourself.
For example, the cumbersome desk items of today will be left in the wastepaper bin of history. Telephone answering will be done by the simple blink of an eye, enabling you to handle enquiries without taking your eyes off the computer screen. Time and motion experts in the year 2098 came up with this idea, having calculated that almost two minutes of valuable work time was spent every day picking up the receiver and putting it down again.
Over-population will be a major problem in the future, so many people will live in super-cities in the sky, although few will move to other planets, because they will all be full by 2066. It will be difficult to find office space to rent, so it will be at a premium, and people will work in small enclosures known as batteries. In a bizarre twist, many of the offices will be managed by giant hens, which will care little about the discomfort of the workers.
In the office itself, drones will be able to enjoy a thirty-second break at lunchtime. Most of them will have a sandwich injected into their bloodstream, as well as a dried coffee capsule, before taking on the afternoon and evening’s tasks. The average working day will be limited by law to 23 hours, enabling people to enjoy time with their family, once they get home from the commute, of course. Anyone arriving late for work in the morning will be punished with a special Taser-watch, which they have to wear on their wrist for two hours.
Toilet breaks will be monitored in the office of the future. Going to the loo more than once a day is considered inefficient, so workers will have to wear diver’s boots when they sit at their desks. This will ensure they don’t leave until a supervisor allows them to, by unclipping the footwear. The worker then has exactly two minutes and eighteen seconds to get the job done. If he or she takes any longer, the door is automatically opened and a live video feed of the activity is shown on all the company’s computer screens.
David Rice is based in the south-east of England and is dreading the office of the future. He has been keeping a close eye on hens ever since he wrote this article. He isn’t looking forward to blinking his eyes as a telephone answering system. He currently works for a company which specialises in finding office space to rent.