Earlier this month, The Outthinker Strategy Network hosted futurist Faith Popcorn as a roundtable guest. Faith joined our community of chief strategy officers and executives to talk about trends that will have the biggest impact this year and over the next decade.
As each member shared their most critical concerns, the questions themselves were powerful enough to spark an extensive conversation into Faith’s predictions, and what they will mean for life and business. This list of key questions from the group, along with Faith’s foresight, offers a lens to focus your attention as you look to the future.
1. What is the future of work?
How will companies best get work done? What will jobs look like? How will people get hired?
Faith warns that the Oxford University forecast that over 40% of US workers will lose their jobs by 2035 is quickly becoming a reality. Lifelong loyalty to a single employer is no longer the norm. She has long predicted the continued rise of entrepreneurship and the gig economy.
Workers of the future will be matched to multiple jobs, likely by AI, that suit their skills and interests. Winning employers will be those that offer freedom and flexibility to allow employees to work from anywhere and pursue their passions.
2. What will be the lasting effects of the Great Resignation?
Will people stick to leaving or changing their careers? Or will we all return to the office two years post-pandemic?
There will not be a widespread return to the office, according to Faith. Workers have gotten a taste of freedom and autonomy that they will want to maintain.
Faith’s Cashing Out trend recognizes that people have tired of the rat race and strive for simpler lives. Her Cocooning trend foreshadows a deeper retreat into our home life. Managers of the future will need to meet employees virtually in their homes.
3. What are some upcoming trends in knowledge work?
How can we help people who use their brains for a living do more, better and faster?
Faith’s 99 Lives trends predicted the pressure of a sped-up pace of life. She advised clients about on-the-go breakfasts and caffeine-infused beverage for increased energy.
In the future, she foresees the use of nootropic supplements to improve brain function along with regenerative pods, cannabis products, and soothing pharmaceuticals to recharge between tasks.
4. How can we enhance our understanding of people’s motivation profiles?
Employees, especially millennials, are on a quest for belonging, inner peace, and guidance through tribes and clubs. Since the 1980s, Faith has identified a growing focus on wellness, which she captures in her Being Alive trend. Consumers will continue to optimize health through wearables, implants, and DNA-specific solutions.
Faith’s Egonomics trend explains how personalization and customization will become increasingly important to customers and employees alike.
5. How will the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) trend pan out for companies?
Will this remain a top focus for companies going forward?
Transparency and doing good for the world will only become more important as time goes on. Report cards, apps, and new technologies will reveal deeper insights into company practices.
“Instead of Big Brother doing the watching, it will be the customer,” Faith explains in her Vigilante Customer trend. Consumers will choose companies that exercise their values, and a Save Our Society trend will reject unethical practices.
According to Faith, “The companies that choose to stay on the sidelines, to ‘wait and see,’ won’t be here in the coming decades. Those that put people, earth, and ethics first will survive.”
6. How will climate change impact business and other trends in the next few years?
Climate change is a driving force between many of Faith’s other predicted trends: Cocooning as we retreat to our homes for safety, Save Our Society unites us with a global conscience. Environmental decline will accelerate and create an AtmosFear trend in which we look to data to test for contaminants and pollutants and put pressure on companies to ensure our safety.
7. What are some ways to increase people’s sense of connection with themselves and with each other?
Faith predicts the rise of AI companions and virtual connections to fill the gap left by the loss of face-to-face connections. As nuclear families splinter and real-life communities face growing tensions, we will look to virtual allies, perhaps even connecting with avatars of people from past centuries or from the future.
8. What does the future look like for infrastructure?
Faith has forecasted the certainty of autonomous vehicles. Beyond that, she sees us living in “Armored Cocoons” – driverless home-pods with heightened security and filtered water, air, and information. By 2025, the population of regions outside the suburbs of a city may exceed the urban population for the first time. These will operate not as extensions of the nearby city, but as self-contained communities.
9. How fast is the AI/Machine Learning trend going to occur?
How soon will AI be able to help us set priorities?
Rocky, the digital AI life coach, can already help you set goals, reduce stress, and improve your health. An informal survey found that 50% of respondents desire an AI companion to serve as their life coach. Faith’s 2035 MetaLife predictions include AI assisting in making decisions for us.
10. How is it possible to achieve such consistent and high accuracy in reporting trends?
Faith shares a few methods for how she is so accurately able to see the future. She works with a talent bank of 10,000 futurists and strategists who are out asking questions and actively creating the future. She stresses the importance of a company culture that permits curiosity, brainstorming, and questioning.
And she has learned that the number one error people make in predicting the future is projecting a limited view based on what has happened in the past. Instead, use the trends you know to visualize the future, then create a timeline to work backward.
After talking to Faith, some of our CSO takeaways included, “The macroenvironment is pushing society to virtual activities that will define the future of work and play,” and “The metaverse seems a lot more real than I thought.” Perhaps it’s time to start exploring the depths of these technologies that seem just past the brink of our daily lives.
For more futurism: I had the opportunity to sit down with Faith on the Outthinker Podcast for a deeper dive into her predictions and how they will influence your strategy. Check out our interview here. And visit Faith’s Trend Bank for her full list of global trends.