Is this the end of work as we know it?

A thought-provoking new white paper, ‘The Future of Work’, suggests it could be

8-4-2013 — / — Commissioned by Esselte Corporation to mark its100-year anniversary, the paper looks at the current and future world of work highlighting the key changes both employees and companies are going to have to adapt to.

Authors, Richard Watson and Andrew Crosthwaite of Futures House Europe, examine some of the key factors driving changes in the way we work and our management cultures and why these effects are accelerating.

“As a result of the internet, new technologies, the huge increase in mobile or home working, part-time jobs and today’s ‘always on’, 24/7 culture, we found that most people now spend more time working than sleeping.  In fact by 2015 around 40% of the total workforce will be mobile – because work is no longer where the office is.  For mobile workers work is wherever they are – be that their car, home, coffee shop, the airport, customer site or even on holiday.  This is just one area our report identifies as having a massive impact on the way we work;” explains Richard Watson.

Other factors covered in the paper include:

  • Ageing workforces:  By 2050 over 65’s will represent around 50% of the working population in Europe.  Countries will have to let (or make) people work longer, incentivise birth rates, relax immigration policies and/or increase productivity to meet demand for workers. Increase in part timers – in Europe part time jobs now account for 20-25% of jobs – as a result of ageing workers, women in workforce and cost cutting by companies to have a proportion of workers on shorter contracts
  • Millennials and Gen Y: More tech-savvy than any other generation but their values, ambitions and approach to work is very different to their predecessors. By 2020, companies will have to be multi-generational, multi cultural and able adapt to people wanting to stay employed/have gaps and/or extend their careers indefinitely.
  • The generation gap: Millennials think senior management do not relate to them and use autocratic command and control structures. They want to work in collaborative, teamwork based management groups for companies doing something they believe in.  Different generations need to work closer and respect each other’s talents.
  • Gender: The huge economic impact of getting more women in the workforce especially at senior levels. Eliminating the gap between male and female employment would boost GDP by 9% in US, 13% in Eurozone and 16% in Japan (Goldman Sachs).  Fortune 500 companies with three or more women directors outperform those with none by a 46% margin in return on investment.
  • Mobile working: By 2015 new technologies mean 1.3 billion (or 40%) of the total working population will be mobile.  Today mobile workers carry around 3.5 mobile devices but going forward this may reduce to one as The Cloud becomes a storage system and a virtual hub for all the company’s’ mobile semi-structured workforce.  Mobile workers tend to multi-task and work more hours. A quarter say they work 15-20 hours extra a week because technology enables (or forces) them to do so. Also as the margins between work and personal life blur about 35% of people also work at weekends – usually without any payment potentially creating stress and burn-out.
  • Security of Information: Organisations of the future will be more fluid with fewer full- time employees. Talent will be imported as needed and resource coordinators will put together best teams for particular projects from inside and outside the organisation blending them and their equipment together.  All will have their own devices (BYOD) and potentially work remotely creating huge security and data storage/retrieval challenges.
  • Where will new talent for workforce come from? Talent scarcities worldwide mean that by 2030 the USA will need to add over 25 million workers to its talent base to sustain economic growth and Western Europe more than 45 million. Employees will see themselves as ‘brands’ whose marketing they have sole control over.  The portfolio career as envisaged by Charles Handy will be the norm.

The overall conclusions of the report suggest that the traditional office is dying and will only remain relevant where security concerns or face to face presence is paramount.  Similarly the future structure of work is going to have to change to make access to information and its retrieval, much simpler and faster.  We will all become mobile workers and the office will be more of a chameleon hub or meeting place.  Often you will just send a hologram in your place to meetings and your office will never be at a permanent address.  It will be a full-service ‘pop-up’ appearing as needed in whatever country or city a particular project is required.  We will work in collaborative teams with both colleagues and customers and as companies will partner with like minded organisations for strategic mutual benefit.

Martin Kula, Vice President – Marketing, Esselte concludes; “The paper underlines how innovation, collaboration and more efficient organisation of the way we work must be hard-wired into a company, and be championed and invested in by senior management.  Helping people be organised and in control is Esselte’s core competence – it is in our DNA.  The paper also shows that security, digital data storage and retrieval of information is likely to become harder not easier. This is why our focus remains on making sure vital documents are secure, adapting desktop tools to the modern environment and providing innovative products which bring paper and digital together such as Leitz Cloud and Leitz Complete, to help people run productive and organised companies now and in the future.”

Martin Kula, Vice President – Marketing, Esselte

Martin Kula, Vice President – Marketing, Esselte


For further information:

A complimentary download of the white paper and an executive summary is available on

To discuss the implications of this paper with one of the authors and/or Martin Kula, Vice President – Marketing of Esselte please contact:-

Lorna Campbell, BLAC PR Consultant : +44 (0) 7836 625 999 | or Janina Simek, BLAC:                 +44 (0) 20 3640 5956 |

About Esselte:

The Esselte Corporation is one of the world’s premier manufacturers of office products with annual sales in excess of $1 billion and subsidiaries in 29 countries. The company owns many strong brands including Leitz, Rapid, Esselte, Pendaflex, Ampad and Xyron.

In 2013 Esselte is celebrating a century of developing innovative solutions to organise the workplace. Beginning as a collection of printing companies Esselte has responded to market conditions over the years to develop hundreds of pioneering and award winning products in its sector. The current range of new products include the Leitz Complete range of accessories for mobile devices as well as reinvigorating traditional products from Lever Arch Files to laminators for the workplace of the 21st century – wherever it may be.

About the authors Esselte commissioned Futures House Europe, a scenario planning company specialising in envisaging the challenges facing organisations, to look at the world of work and its implications going forward for both people and companies.  The resulting paper, ‘The Future of Work’, was co-authored by Richard Watson, a futurist and author of books such as Future Files and Future Minds and a regular contributor to “Fast Company” magazine and Andrew Crosthwaite, Richard’s business partner and Planning Director of the London advertising Agency, BLAC. In addition to Esselte, Futures House works with London Business School, Nestle, KPMG, TUI and Save the Children.

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