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A survey of more than 1,000 senior executives found 74% expected “virtual teams of employees”, working at a distance from each other, to become the norm by 2018.

About 64% thought talented people would become “multi-employed,” 59% said job hopping would be commonplace and 56% said most routine tasks would be automated.

Two-thirds of the executives expected global corporations to exert more influence than governments. Almost as many forecast an increase in customer participation in business decisions and the creation of products with longer life cycles to meet environmental concerns. There was less support for the futurologists’ technological projections. Only 31% expected to communicate with staff by hologram and 12% thought companies would enhance the capabilities of staff by implanting microchips in their brains.
Mary Chapman, the institute’s chief executive, said: “Looking ahead 10 years, it is clear that the successful organisations will be those who can do more than embrace change – they will anticipate, identify and drive it …

“A greater degree of emotional intelligence will be required by managers and leaders so they can understand how people work and their likely reaction to change. They will also need to shift from today’s input-driven approach to a focus on output, achievement and a better integration between work and personal lives.”

A list of scenarios drawn up by the Chartered Management Institute and launched at a seminar in London warned companies to prepare for a polarisation of businesses, with large corporations consolidating global control and becoming more powerful than the governments of some big countries.

But there would also be a proliferation of “virtual” companies, often small community-based enterprises without conventional business premises.

These enterprises would have to compete for employees, who will become more footloose and less inclined to work for an organisation that does not allow individuals to tailor the working day to meet their personal requirements. “Organisations will have to address the growing power of the employee,” the report said.

Futurologists have predicted many of these changes before, but the institute said its report was the first attempt by very senior execs to predict how their organisations may look 10 years in the future.

It said collaborative working would become so important that companies should consider abolishing positions and job titles. “Instead each employee should be seen as a valuable resource, to be employed according to specific organisational needs.”

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