A third of people don't expect their jobs to exist in five years

Catherine Neilan
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We all know that robots are supposedly poised to take over the world - now it seems a high proportion of us are expecting technology to change the workplace so much, our jobs won't exist in the near future.

More than a third of white collar workers in the UK, US and Germany believe their jobs will cease to exist in the next five years, while nearly two-thirds think their roles will look totally different.

A new study of so called "knowledge workers" - those whose job it is to "think for a living" - suggests rapid changes in the working world is being felt "from the boardroom to the employee lounge".

But it's not all bad. In fact, the study argues that many of us will be more in control of our destinies.

One of the biggest changes is - unsurprisingly - being brought about by the digital world, with more than half of those surveyed saying they work in "virtual" offices, where teams are distributed across locations. This is set to change the way we work even further, according to Unify chief executive Jon Pritchard, who commissioned the study.

"It’s our belief that knowledge workers will increasingly want to define how, when and where they work. It’s up to businesses to enable this behaviour and manage further disruption and change," he said.

The study bases a lot of its conclusions on how current staff demands will shape the future, with the number of people who are based outside the office on the rise and 27 per cent of respondents hoping to spend at least half of their time on the move.

Freelancers and contractors are also on the rise, accounting for a fifth of those who responded to the survey - and more than half (53 per cent) said they would shift to a freelance or on-demand model of work over regular employment if it were offered.

"The study proves that there are some dramatic changes ahead in business where new ways of working are concerned. As knowledge workers continue to construct the future of work for themselves, employers must keep up," Pritchard said.

"Technology will play a vital part in them realising their ideals while ensuring that top talent remains engaged with their organisations. It is up to the global business community to recognise this and provide the tools that their knowledge workers most desire — those that will enable the creativity and innovation that the workforce is demanding.”

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