Workforce of the future: The Red World in 2030

In the Red World, innovation rules

The Red World is a perfect incubator for innovation with organisations and individuals racing to give consumers what they want. 

Digital platforms and technology enable those with winning ideas and allow for specialist and niche profit-markers to flourish. Businesses innovate to create personalisation and find new ways to serve these niches.

But in a world where ideas rule and innovation outpaces regulation, the risks are high. Today's winning business could be tomorrow's court case.



“There's a lack of loyalty from the company towards the employees. Workers with skills in demand will prosper, those with outdated skills will be abandoned.”

Part-time Government employee (66), USA

Workforces in The Red World

Innovation and people are inseparable in this world. 

Organisations are stripped-down and nimble, supplemented by talent attracted by the next promising opportunity. Workers know that the most sought-after skills will mean the biggest reward package, with like-minded workers gravitating towards each other, aided by technology, sparking bubbles of innovation. 

Projects quickly flourish, evolve and resolve as specialists move frequently and stay only as long as the project or business lasts. 

HR does not exist as a separate function and entrepreneurial leaders rely on outsourced services and automation for people processes.

Larger organisations scour the world to 'acqui-hire' talent and intellectual property using specialist talent strategists and AI to identify the specialists they want.

The role of technology in The Red World

Technology encourages the creation of powerful, like-minded, cross border social "bubbles" allowing serial entrepreneurs to reach far beyond their size.

New products and business models can be developed at lightning speed, powered by technology and big data. And businesses can find new ways to serve niche markets and individual preferences. 

Digital platforms match workers with employer, innovators with capital, and consumers with suppliers.


The Future of Work: In their own words

Innovation rules

Lily, Bergen & Edinburgh
Red world

“I’m always up annoyingly early and after a run on the virtual track – I chose a route through the Sierra Nevada this morning – I search through the chatter on my groups for anything interesting.

My home and family are in Bergen, Norway but I move around a lot. In the past 18 months I’ve worked on projects in Singapore, Seattle, Frankfurt and now Edinburgh. I love the constant change.

My speciality is additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. It really took off when I got together with a group I’d met through one of my online courses – weirdly, it was a language course rather than anything technical – and we ended up developing 3D technology to produce customised running shoes.

The idea of spending three years studying one subject, as my parents did when they were at university, seems completely mad to me. I’ve worked hard to build my reputation and make sure that my skills set is exactly on-point – part of the point of checking in with the 3D forums and futurist boards every day is so I can spot developments early and start my research if I think that there might be a gap in my knowledge.

My skills tend to be important right at the start of a project – I’m the innovative design end – so it’s normal for me to move on to the next job after a few months or a year (or days, sometimes, if an idea doesn’t work). There are a few people I meet on jobs regularly but so many people are competing to get into 3D work, more often than not I’m working with new faces.

This project has taken space at the 3D Warehouse in Edinburgh. I love the fact that it’s always packed full with people sparking ideas off each other, usually in several different languages at once (thank goodness for instant translate)! VR lets us get the right people together easily, but there’s no substitute for being in the room when people are getting excited about an idea.

I’ve been doing this for four months now and a lot of the groundwork has been done from my point of view so I’m looking out for the next project. I’m already working a few hours a week with a new crew in Johannesburg. That might develop into something bigger, but they haven’t found enough funding yet so I’ll have to wait and see. For me it’s all about the thrill of possibilities, pushing the boundaries of what we can do. But making sure that I’ll be paid has to be the priority. ”

All companies, individuals and products described in our Visions of the Future and Road to 2030 sections are entirely illustrative and bear no relation to any real-life examples.


Contact us

Carol Stubbings

Carol Stubbings

Global Markets and Tax & Legal Services Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Bhushan Sethi

Bhushan Sethi

Strategy&, Principal, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (646) 471 2377

Justine Brown

Justine Brown

Director, Workforce of the Future research programme, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 77 1016 9938

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