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The workforce of the future: Atlas Copco’s vision

In celebrating its hundredth year of operations in the UK, Atlas Copco has taken time to look back at the company’s progress since 1919. It then went on to consider what radical technological developments and fundamental changes in the industrial and commercial landscape the next century may have in store. Now it considers the outlook for its human resources. 

The years to come are predicted to witness dramatic changes – the activation of the first nuclear fusion power plant to provide unlimited electrical energy, supercomputers the size of sugar cubes, vertical hydroponic farms, commercial space flights, industrial colonisation of the Moon, or nanobots to perform medical procedures. These are just a few of many possible technological scenarios but what about the human workforce of the future? 

The workforce of the future 

Here is an imaginary report summarising technical and workforce milestone events occurring over the next 100 years as seen from an Atlas Copco HR perspective:   

man with cubes

“2040: This was the year for good news for the environment, for medical science and for our workforce communications. For the first time, renewable energy output overtook fossil-fuel derived power, a brain-controlled bionic limb was now available to amputees, self-drive cars became mainstream, and within the company we learnt to download an employee's knowledge onto an external hand-held storage device. A storage chip was inserted painlessly under their skin, the data passed into their consciousness. When colleagues left or retired this device was passed to the new employee, rapidly shortening the time to competence.

This was especially useful to the field service, sales and technical teams enabling them to know everything that their predecessor knew about a customer, the equipment installation and the application."

futuristic glasses

"2050: By this time, society had stopped defining employees by their gender, and within the company the knowledge transfer system enabled any employee to take any role, with prior engineering knowledge no longer being critical to success. We saw true gender equality for the first time, with employees who demonstrated stronger empathy skills becoming very successful leaders. This ultimately led to our first female CEO, CTO and CFO team. 


Meanwhile, with space travel becoming as affordable as an around the world plane ticket, the Space Division recorded impressive growth and had doubled its global workforce." 


"2060: Employees could now utilise the Drone Zone for personal transport or enjoy the benefit of Wi-Fi battery charging if they chose to use an autonomous vehicle. To maintain our employees’ health, we installed MediPods for remote diagnostics and treatments in-house.

The knowledge systems were now connected with each other and called Air-Hive. Any employee could access the hive remotely and gain access to all customer and technical knowledge for the previous 12 months. This opened more candidates to the knowledge- based roles as individual ability to store the data became unnecessary.

2080: By now the Air-Hive system had grown into a global data centre, the Space Division was the company’s largest business area and we no longer identified employees by a job title. In the new structure, the nearest employee was able to attend the nearest customer, irrespective of specific needs such as sales, service, finance queries, etc.

This employee versatility drove our next HR innovation, Tiered salaries were simplified as now anyone could do most jobs, profits were shared more evenly throughout the business.

Retaining employee knowledge became less of a priority. The company was able to support several flexibility programmes. For instance, parents took greater parental leave and more employees took flexible leave to travel, volunteer or retire. Due to efficiencies gained, the average working week was reduced to 25 hours. People were less tired and had more time for leisure and exercise.

2090:  By improving the reversal of Air-Hive we enabled older employees to access and excel in the latest developments in modern technology. This innovation, coupled with the benefit of greater standards of employee health, resulted in the average retirement age increasing to 85."

In a new age of robots, cobots, AI and virtual reality the workplace may change beyond recognition – it is predicted that 65% of children under the age of 11 today will be working in jobs that aren’t even created yet. The hope is that technology will take on the repetitive and mundane tasks leaving the workforce free to plan, to manage and create even greater opportunities for a profitable future. 

News Company Corporate Atlas Copco