In 2012 the following will be back in fashion: the landline, the jacket, the
commute, the handshake and above all the office itself.
Out of fashion will be the virtual office in which employees sit hunched
over laptops in their local Starbucks, joined to their colleagues by webcamand
e-mail. Instead, working life will start to resemble its old self before the
internet was invented. Employees will turn up to work at predictable hours five
days a week, and will comportthemselves with greater formality than before.
Face-to-face meetings will be preferred to video conferences; ideas will be
exchanged not by tweet, but by the coffee machine.
The reason for this will be largely defensive. The repeated shocks to the
world economy delivered over the past few years will bring in a culture of
corporate risk aversion: the focus will be more on accountabilitythan
creativity. With white-collar unemployment remaining high, those who have
survived successive rounds of job cuts will feel more than ever determined to
hang on to their paychecks—which means being seen at their desks. In 2012 it
will no longer seem either cool or wise to send e-mails with the annoying little
line that says “sent from my iPhone” at the bottom. Instead e-mails will be
tapped out on the office PC. And the office landline will stage a comeback,
Companies, under increasing pressure to protect their profits, will focus
more attention on white-collar productivity. As output is hard to measure in
most professional jobs, managers will fall back on the oldest gaugeof
performance: favouring those employees who get in early and leave late. In 2012
Woody Allen’s judgment will never have seemed truer: 80% of success is turning
up. Or in pretending to turn up. Jackets will be bought in duplicate, so that
one can be permanently on the back of the chair.
Managers will start to realise that remote working has been disastrousfor
spreading corporate culture, and that in particular it has made it difficult for
younger workers to pick up the tricks of the trade. With no one to copy, they
have failed to adjust well to the world of work. The new formality will suit the
young: they will turn up to work smartly dressed and have no option but to
immersethemselves in the corporate culture and learn from those above them in
the pecking order. They will be happy to distinguish themselves from their
unemployed friends: with one in five new graduates out of work, the gap between
the professional haves and have-nots will be wider than ever.
In this new, no-nonsense world the lines of management will be redrawn.
After more than a decade in which global business has been mainly organised
under global, functional teams, there will be a retrenchmentalong more
traditional, regional lines. Travel budgets will be cut further and executives,
except in extremis, will be staying put.
This environment will be one in which some women will thrivewhile others
will drop out. Those prepared to work like traditional men and put their
families second will find themselves quickly promoted. In 2012 the pressure to
have women on boards and in senior positions will be more intense than ever, and
so those prepared to play the game will be highly rewarded. So highly, in fact,
that we will see a rash of lawsuits from professional white men claiming
discrimination. At the same time, however, many more women will drop out of the
race altogether, looking at the newly inflexible way of working and deciding
they would rather not compete at all.
A great year for gossip
The new, old-style office will be a horrible place to work in some ways,
but a nice one in others. Insecurity will be rifeeveryone will feel only as good
as their last meeting. Office politics will thrive as never before. There will
be a new seriousness. Jokes will be out, unless cracked by the boss, in which
case appreciative laughter will be compulsory. Yet it will also be a great year
for office gossips. The virtual office almost killed the grapevine, it being
hard to drum up interest about people one never sees. The year will be a good
one for bonding—which will happen naturally around the water cooler rather than
unnaturally and at vast expense on an Outward Bound training course.
Most retro of all will be the return of the office canteen (for businesses
that still have them), which has been increasingly shunned as office workers
have turned to sandwich bars for lunch. But with employees now forced to sit at
their desks all day long, they may ceaseto see the charms of dining al desko on
a shrink-wrapped sandwich. Instead people will start to take a—shortish—break at
lunch time, going to the canteen for a proper, hot meal.
landline n. 固话
out of fashion 过时的；不流行的
hunch over 弯腰驼背
webcam n. 网络摄像头
comport with 适合；与……一致
successive adj. 连续的；依次的
hang on to 紧紧抓住；紧握
paycheck n. 薪水
tap out 敲出；敲打出
fall back on 求助于
gauge n. 测量标准
turn up 出现；出席；出勤
have no option but to 只能……除了……别无选择
immerse in 全神贯注于，专心于
pecking order 社会等级
stay put 留在原地；停住不动
thrive v. 繁荣；兴旺
drop out 退出；脱离
a rash of 大批
drum up 竭力争取；纠集；鼓动
at vast expense 大笔的开支
1. What's the main reason that white-collar workers back to formality?
2. Can you list 3 features that indicates white-collar workers' back to