“A four-day week would definitely disrupt the market, making those companies that adopt it much more competitive. Just imagine a three-day weekend!”

We’re absolutely delighted to add a different voice to our “Future of work” interview series. Because Eva Pankova is arguably at the sharp end of changing work practices: human resources.

It helps that Eva is “Head of People” for ROI Hunter, a technology company that isn’t afraid to think differently. For instance, it gave its new Brno, Czech Republic, office a radical design to meet the changing needs of its workforce – and was nominated as Interior of the Year.

ROI Hunter’s radical and bright new offices in Brno, Czech Republic

So how does Eva think the world of work is going to change? Here, based on over 15 years of experience helping to build companies that foster collaboration and innovation, she shares her insights.

What are the major factors influencing the future of work?

For me, there are still some unanswerable questions regarding the future of work. From where shall we work? When should we work? And how many hours should we work? For example, the Spanish city of Valencia is now trialling a 4-day week (32 working hours), while keeping the same pay, to see how productivity and mood changes.

Another interesting question is unlimited time off. We tend to think of performance linearly – more time equals more results. However, what if more time off brought better ideas and increased creativity? A 4-day week would definitely disrupt the market, making those companies that adopt it much more competitive. Just imagine a 3-day weekend! 

Is there any science fiction story that, in your view, successfully predicts the future?

Recently, I got back to Asimov’s well-known book I, Robot. As an HR person I find one particular aspect of this book intriguing; robots are so logical that people sometimes find it hard to understand their behaviour.

We hear similar comments anytime AI is brought up. We program AI tools knowing we may not be able to control them in the future, but, at the same time, we tend to follow their advice. Who is then leading? And I am very curious about how company cultures will change with increased robot participation. Imagine if your next boss were a robot!

How do you think the work office will change in the next ten years?

I believe offices will still be a thing. People are not designed for remote working and will not give up face-to-face interactions. However, people will want to choose when and where they work even more than now.

Consequently, I see employment becoming more dynamic. People will not spend all their working time with just one employer but combine various part-time jobs so as to enjoy work more and, perhaps, earn more money with technology making this possible.

However, technology not only brings improvement, it can bring unwanted change, which we can observe now in hiring. While on one side, technology saves time, on the other, candidates lack personal contact during the job application. The further they progress through the interview process, and the more time and energy they invest, the more personal attention they require. And this cannot be delivered by automation. 

What jobs will be gone by 2030? And what new jobs might be created?

This question is interesting. You might have seen some predictions for the year 2000 so whatever I say I will probably be off the mark. Just last week I heard that AI is bad at making jokes. So it seems that being a stand-up comedian is the job of the future!

Aside from that, what will probably happen is that many manual jobs will change, utilising more technology, becoming less physical but requiring new knowledge. It will be a levelling up process.

There are also other industries that can start to attract groups of high-tech workers who would normally never have thought of working there before. For example, agriculture is making great advances. Most of us still associate farming with heavy machinery, but this is an area where big AI investments are happening.

[According to Statista, “the market value of smart agriculture worldwide is forecast to reach around 34 billion US dollars by 2026″.]

Which areas of society do you think will be more impacted by technology?

In the future I would love to have a self-driving car as I am passionate about travelling!

I am also very curious about new transportation models as I believe they will be a must-have, especially with the upcoming changes surrounding electric cars, low emission zones in big cities and limited parking zones. As owning a car gets more expensive, a completely new model, beyond renting or sharing, could develop.​

Also, it would be practical to have more automation in any communication with authorities, getting closer to the Estonian model where they offer 99% of public services online, 24/7.

Other interesting areas are smart cities and renewable energy, which I am personally interested in. I think the speed of development is not driven by technology, but limited by legal regulations and ethical dilemmas. 

What is a recent example of technology disrupting work that you found interesting?

Talking as an HR expert, I am keeping an eye on the influence of AI, especially ChatGPT. This, and similar tools, is super user-friendly but could disrupt the demand for some jobs in the market.

I can easily foresee how it could affect salary levels. What if we need to hire fewer software engineers because they need less time to program or convert from one programming language to another? What if employees complete their texts or writings faster and with better quality, decreasing the hourly rate of most copywriting jobs?

Although AI is not new, we don’t know if this is just hype or something more significant. Nevertheless,  it is definitely worth keeping your eye on.

More “Future of Work” interviews… and get involved!

Our thanks to Eva for taking the time to share her thoughts on the future of work. For more predictions, read on:

  • Deepesh Banerji, Chief Product Officer, Deputy. “The key to preparing for the future of work is to develop skills that are difficult to automate, such as creativity, critical thinking and emotional intelligence”
  • Benjamin Taylor, Organisational Consultant. “This morning at Heathrow Airport I saw a cleaning bot stuck on a rubber line on the floor. In what world is it better to have £30K robots than humans?”
  • Carmen Vicelich, serial entrepreneur. “Emerging markets will leapfrog some more mature markets through rapid digitisation”
  • Philip Ross, author, futurist and CEO of Ungroup and Cordless Group: “The office of 2033 will become a more social, healthier, more sentient, elastic, digital, personalised, shared and purposeful space”
  • Duena Blomstrom, author and CEO of PeopleNotTech. “Jobs of the future? Chief Psychological Safety Officers will be in, bureaucrats will be out.”
  • Fazilat Damani, Chief Experience Officer at Design for Good. “AI won’t completely replace jobs, but rather evolve them.”
  • Jimmy Lee, technologist and CEO of Nirovision. “The work each individual carries out will evolve to use AI copilots, but I’m hopeful that this makes the work even more productive, creative and gratifying!”
  • Tony Hallett, MD of Collective Content. “The part of society most impacted by technology will be the world’s middle classes.”
  • Colin Fraser, founder and Managing Director at Nevis Capital. “Professionals who can ‘supercharge’ themselves with AI tools will win big in our new world.”

If you have something to say about the future of work, please email us at [email protected].

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.