The future is never more of today

I saw an announcement that a group of futurists was meeting in Chicago this past weekend to consider where the world is going in the near and longer-term future. The few things I read about it were a little troubling, because the experts were predicting the medical and ecological trends we face today continuing to their logical conclusions.

Here’s the problem: trends are never linear. Every trend has a shelf life. So the future is never more of today; often it’s a response to or rebellion against today.  Let me give an example from Wycliffe. When we began to plan our new Orlando headquarters building almost ten years ago, leaders were asked to project staffing for the next ten years and request space to meet the needs of the future. Of course, we predicted growing numbers of office-bound staff, and the result is a facility with a lot of elbow room. We’re moving departments together to create larger sections that can be rented out to our partners.

As we look ahead, who’s to say that the future is more and more remote work? In ten or fifteen years, will people start gathering together to work again? I suspect not, but I wouldn’t rule out a confluence of forces such as a reaction against technology or a new economic or business model that suddenly revives the popularity of working in large facilities. What I can say with some confidence is that if that were to  happen, it would look considerably different than our current setup. We can slap the “retro” label on it: an improved variation on something that was never as great as we all remember it.

I can’t wait for the retro commuting movement. It’s going to be so phat.