10 Predictions: Knowledge Work in 2022

Re-moat advantages, new kids on the blockchain, and more

James Joaquin |
Illustration by Pineapple

By James Joaquin and Arek Zarowski

One major takeaway from 2021: the only certainty about the future is uncertainty, especially for knowledge work. We felt it firsthand with return-to-office plans thwarted, our sampling of multiple new productivity and collaboration platforms, and a wholesale reevaluation of the purpose of the workplace.

We’re not letting that get in the way of predicting what’s in store for 2022. Here’s our view of the near future of work in the months ahead.

  1. People-as-a-Platform: 2022 will be the year that business leaders double down on their investment in employee learning and development, re-skilling, and upskilling. As technology levels the playing field among competitors, human capital will become the primary long-term sustainable advantage across all industries.
  2. Building a Re-Moat Advantage: Businesses of all sizes will learn to cast a wide geographic net to attract talent. The new organization will literally be outside the box, with hybrid and fully remote teams anchoring the new normal. And the stakes will be higher than ever for growing and retaining these teams (see #1).
  3. The Difference Engine: Leaders will (finally) put real effort and emphasis into improving the gender and racial diversity of their org. This investment will deliver great returns, adding to the existing mountain of data that diverse teams outperform.
  4. Offline Turns On: With teams spanning multiple time zones and continents and the emergence of human capital as the long term advantage, businesses will make significant investments in offline, in-person special events to instill culture, connections, and loyalty.
  5. Ready Multiplayer One: Every piece of the modern software stack will be re-imagined with multi-player mode at the center. From development and design tools to productivity to vertical SaaS, new software will emerge to power distributed teams across the new normal of hybrid and remote work.
  6. Automation Nation: The low-code and no-code innovation wave will continue to automate workflows in every department across every industry. These new algorithms will work in concert with humans, giving knowledge workers superpowers.
  7. Honey I Shrunk the SaaS: Modern SaaS products will become leaner, meaner, product-led machines. Lower cost, easy-to-deploy products will gain adoption at the small team level and then organically grow adoption within large enterprises.
  8. New Kids on the Blockchain: Some of the current startup excitement and innovation around Web3 will “re-centralize” into enterprise products and acquisitions that put smart contracts to work.
  9. Welcome to the Holodesk: Progress on AR & VR hardware and software will find a foothold in vertical applications and business collaboration. Talk about a home office makeover.
  10. Data-Driven Livin’: New data tools will bring data analysis, visualization, and sharing to every aspect of modern work. Every knowledge worker will become their own data scientist with a better, faster data-driven lens into their business.

At Obvious we’re backing amazing entrepreneurs building a people-powered future of work. Examples include GustoIncredible Health, and Torch.

If you share our vision of human-centered distributed teams, drop us a line: arek@obviousventures.com / James Joaquin

James Joaquin

James invests early in breakthrough technologies that move humanity forward. He’s passionate about the responsible use of AI to solve the unsolvable across trillion-dollar industries.

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