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Ten Office Items that Will Be Relics by 2017

A LinkedIn survey of 7,000 office workers asks what technologies and tools are slated for the dust bin
September 25, 2012

I ditched my Rolodex a full ten years ago in favor of an online address book, but old habits die hard in many kinds of offices, and technologies can take a long time to penetrate.

A new LinkedIn survey of 7,000 professionals around the world showed that 58 percent of workers believed the Rolodex would be an office relic by 2017, taking the third spot on the list (that leaves 32 percent who think we’ll be hanging on to business cards). The top two technologies slated for extinction in the “Office Endangered Species” study were tape recorders (79 percent) and fax machines (71 percent). A third of the survey respondents believed desk phones and desktop computers would also go by the wayside.

Who even needs desks at that point? Apparently, not everyone. The responses also indicated people are thinking about new ways of interacting with coworkers—some believed standard working hours, formal business attire, cubicles, and executives’ corner offices will soon seem old-fashioned. These trends are undoubtedly buoyed by the rise of mobile devices in the work place, for better or worse (see “Is Mobile Computing Good for Productivity?”)

People believed that mobile and cloud technologies will become more ubiquitous, and that’s no surprise. But what they’d really dream for is “a clone or assistant” to help throughout the day, a quarter of the survey respondents said. We’re not there yet, though as my colleague Rachel Metz reported recently, apps are turning smartphones into increasingly effective personal assistants (see “Getting Your Phone to Give you a Hand”). She writes that predictive features could emerge soon:

For example, every time you attend your child’s soccer game, your phone-based personal assistant might notice that it takes you more time than you allot on your schedule. Eventually, if you try to schedule a meeting right after the game, it could ask you if you really think the time frame is realistic.

You can also read more about the future of the office in a special report Technology Review put together last year.

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