Meet your future workplace: AI bots, 3D printing and virtual reality

Young people coming into employment in the next five years will work in a virtual reality office in the future, according to Vodafone.

Speaking at a keynote speech at the UC Expo in London, Peter Terry-Brown, head of product management at Vodafone, said 14-to-16-year-olds worked together in a virtual environment better than an older group did in a traditional office, when the telco decided to compare them.

Terry-Brown said that none of the delegates present would define the workplace of the future, rather it would be down to younger people defining it through how they collaborate.

Out of that collaboration study, three elements surfaced that would define the future workplace, he added.

First, in the study, boys and girls came together to understand the goals at hand and saw it through to completion quicker than the older group working in a more traditional office setting, with the virtual environment also offering unexpected benefits.

"The best performer was someone with crippling social anxiety that couldn't leave their house," said Terry-Brown.

Second, the younger group were able to try and try again until they got it right. He said that this type of collaboration is something that the industry has been trying to teach its workforces.

Third, the youngsters had another trick up their sleeves - gaming.

"Kids are learning the skills they need for the future of work as a hobby. They play games against each other."

But Terry-Brown warned that if organisations do not take into account how younger people collaborate, they were in danger of "creating a sub-optimal environment for workers in the future".

He added that three things were necessary for the future workplace. First, virtual reality would play an "absolutely critical" part, but must be less obtrusive and more intuitive.

Second, every single team of workers would in future have an AI bot that would help organisations interpret the vast amounts of data being generated every year.

Lastly, Terry-Brown said that 3D printing would help represent the real world to virtual teams in order to enhance the connection that people have with environments they may not be able to personally visit. "It's all about making the connection," he said.Your

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.