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My Future Life: Micro trends in how we’ll live

Overview  |  The World Around Me : Macro factors of change  |  Nine Future Stories

Micro Trends

Taking a closer look at the trends which will shape the way we’ll live in the future.

My future self
My future
My future work
My future places
My future things

8 – My future self

Seamless ‘always on’ living

  • The overarching shift in the way we live our day-to-day lives will be ever-greater seamlessness
  • Our days will increasingly move from compartmentalised, fragmented frames of time, to free-flowing, flexible timeframes. Waiting/dead time will be minimised.
  • An increasing number of public and commercial services are available 24 hours a day in British towns and cities. Government services are increasingly available via the internet around the clock – partly through an explicit shift to online service provision.
  • Access is the key to seamless living.

Life through the lens of health and wellness

  • Consciousness and enthusiasm for health will be woven more tightly into everyday life
  • This will only increase in the future as the population ages and people seek ways in which to manage their health better to stay active and productive for longer
  • We see wellness shaping the Government agenda, as happiness indicators become measurements of economic and personal health.

“The contours of the city as a gym are becoming clear. It is now taken for granted that new neighbourhoods must favour walking and cycling.”
Simon Kuper, Financial Times

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9 – My future relationships

Strength in networks

  • As society abandons vertical, top-down power structures, networks and ‘the collective’ become increasingly important. This is facilitated largely by technology, with significant impact on shopping, music and video sharing, online trading, social initiatives, political protest and much more
  • ‘Productive relationships’ are initiated online and based on mutual interests, mutual desires, connections related to business and so on
  • Companies are far more ‘open’ to consumers and consumers have much greater power to influence companies –  for example

“A further sign that parenting sites are becoming increasingly popular and powerful groups to be reckoned with.  Netmums launched its new bloggers network on 1 July 2011 and has been inundated with both enthusiastic mums and dads wishing to write about their experiences.”
Emma Barnett, digital media editor, Daily Telegraph


The enduring need for face-to-face time

  • Digital connections in spaces like Facebook and Twitter do not replace physical relations; they enhance them and increase opportunities to nurture them
  • A net effect of the rise of one-person households will be the desire for more socialising and more frequent activities with others.

“Electronic mobility is more likely to serve as a net stimulus to travel: by fostering more social and business relationships in cyberspace. It feeds the desire for real face to face encounters.”
John Adams, professor of geography, University College London

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10 – My future work

More flexible working

  • Experts forecast that it is far more likely that companies will negotiate more flexible hours with their employees, as well as switching between time in and out of the office, than move wholly towards home working
  • This will lead to many people being able to choose their start and finish times for the working day, plus the days they spend at their company office
  • This flexibility will of course depend on the ability/type of organisation; for example, the service industry requires people to be present in a specific location

“The advantages of flexible working are undeniable-productivity and efficiency savings, a reduced carbon footprint, employee wellbeing-and are for both companies and their workers.”
Norman Baker on the Government’s Anywhere Working initiative


Working in the company of others

  • Knowledge workers gather in cities to collaborate and compete. Companies will continue to need to be based in business hubs
  • This enhances the need for services, entertainment and public transport in these areas
  • The Work Foundation forecasts a growth in knowledge work to 55% of all work by 2020
  • Another developing trend is of a ‘third space’ of office ‘hubs’ between home and the workplace.  As technology advances, experts spot an opportunity for transport and its infrastructure to meet future flexible working needs.

“If you look at somewhere like Manchester, it’s gaining skills-highly skilled people are moving there. Leeds too. If this continues, the sort of industries clustering will be higher skilled, more knowledge intensive, there’ll be more employment there. So, you’ll get more of a community scene going on around these places too.”
Neil Lee, The Work Foundation

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11 – My future places

The pull towards the city

  • London and the South East could increasingly become, in both physical and political terms, more like an amalgamated ‘megalopolis’
  • However, there will also be a regional surge as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle’s knowledge industry clusters grow
  • In recent years we have seen the flourishing of the city centre as a residential space
  • We are experiencing a suburban renaissance.  80% of Britons live in suburbs, and planners are getting behind the strategy of using suburbs to make towns and cities more resilient in coping with future congestion stresses.

Navigating digital urban landscapes

  • Technology and what is being described as the ‘internet of things’ will transform how we move around future ‘smart cities.’ Environments will become immersed in real-time information flowing seamlessly around locations and people.
  • ‘Augmented Reality’ merges the online and offline worlds, creating a wealth of opportunities for services.  The vision is that any ‘thing’ – from fridges to buses and buildings – will be able to share data and adapt to suit our needs.
  • Local authorities will be able to deliver much more efficient services, such as reducing waste, traffic lights could respond to changing traffic flows, or people could see how full a train is before they leave for the station.

“We will increasingly live in a world that is always on, where people are constantly connected and distance in many ways ceases to matter as it once did. Yet a strange thing will happen as distance dies- physical location of people and things will, in some respects, start to matter more than ever.”
The Economist ‘Distance is dead, long live location’

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12 – My future things

Desire for filtering and customisation

  • In an age of information and data overload, there is an increasing desire for filtering and customisation
  • Technologists talk about the ‘Age of Personal Informed Reality’ – the notion of the internet being a customised resource
  • Data is both pushed and pulled to the individual. It is increasingly displayed visually, often having an immersive game-like feel, is real-time and is highly socialised and interactive.
  • This, of course, has profound implications for relationships with brands and services. We are increasingly going to ask questions of them based only on our needs and we will only want to hear from them about matters relevant to us.

“We call it snack society because everybody snacks on little bits: little bits of data, little bits of information, it’s all customised just to you.”
Lynn Dornblaser, Direct Mintel International


Pick-up and put-down ownership

  • Concepts of ownership will continue to develop from the current proliferation of hiring and rental schemes into a culture of ‘pick up and put down’, where people can’t afford and don’t desire the volume of things owned by past generations. (e.g. cars)
  • It is likely to be easier to adapt to shared ownership models when it comes to transport in urban areas, as residents of rural areas have a greater dependence on their cars, and it would be more difficult to attain a critical mass of people to make it viable.

“For many people… universal access is better than owning. No responsibility of care, backing up, sorting, cataloguing, cleaning or storage. We can… say that in this realm of bits, property itself becomes a more social endeavour.”
Kevin Kelly, senior editor, Wired magazine

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