Demographics and the future of the workplace


The image is a park in the rain in Amsterdam in 2007 (ish)

This is a summary of previous blog posts and some thinking around recommendations.

Knowledge Work, Aging and Apprenticeships (2011)

Social Technograhics (2007)

 Birth rates, migration and death rates all combine to shape the age profile of the workforce. In recent years marketing messages have talked of vivid changes brought by the millennial generation. Each generation has its own name:

Figure 1 The Generations from 1928 to today
What is true is that the population, and the workforce, is getting older and this drives a need for inclusive design to meet the needs of each generation, designing workplace services with the workforce and needs of the industry in mind. If we consider the aging workforce this drives the following trends:

  • As people age they tend to be more affluent, on average the need to work full time reduces so workplace services need to be able to cost effectively support more people overall.
  • As retirement ages are no-longer legally enforceable in many countries there will be an increase in workers aged in their 60’s and 70’s.
  • More of the older workers will work part time, spending the remainder of their time on life balance, elder care or even working for other organizations or social enterprises.

    Globally every continent shows an increase in the average age of the population over time:

    Figure 2 Average age by continent from 2015 to 2050
    Source: (United Nations, 2012)

    The western economies have the oldest populations. Drilling into an example, the UK, we can see that population size increases and alongside that the population is getting older – as this data shows from 2008 to 2033:


    Figure 3 Millions of people in UK broken down by working age from 2008 to 2033.

    Source: (UK Office of National Statistics, 2009)


    What this data shows for the UK, which is in line with other developed economies, is that the younger workforce, under 40 grows by 6% between 2008 and 2033. The chart talks about pensionable age rather than a fixed age. This is because in the UK over the time of this chart the pensionable age rises and the chart reflects that change. The way the chart and data is being interpreted assumes that everyone leaves employment at retirement age. Given that assumption we see that workers over 40 increase by 22.3%, in reality the number is higher but we have painted the picture. We have to focus on the requirements of millennials alongside the needs of other generations, this is inclusive design for inclusive times.


    The recommendations from this paper for demographics are:

  • As the workforce ages more demands will be placed on services to support accessibility needs with common needs including visual needs, motor needs and neurological needs.
  • Support of knowledge transfer between people is key. This will require consulting services to help businesses design team structures, processes and physical workplace design to support collaboration and knowledge transfer across all generations. This is not only good practice due to multi-generations it is also good practice due to changing employment models and reducing average terms of service.
  • Increased levels of part time working will require IT to cut the cost of services they deliver and yet still maintain personalized user experience for those users.
  • Millennial needs must still be catered for in order to attract younger talent into business.

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