London-based firm PwC surveyed over 10,000 people globally to examines four potential worlds of work shaped by competing forces, people, business, innovation and the environment.
The year is 2030 and medical enhancement techniques have led to the creation of a new breed of elite super-workers.
Employee's performance is measured, monitored and analysed at every step by their corporate overlords.
These elite super-workers use technology to their advantage to become, stronger, faster and smarter.
It may sound like the plot of the next Hollywood science fiction blockbuster, but according to professional services firm PwC it could soon become reality.
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Medically enhanced elite super workers could be competing with automation and AI for employment by 2030, a PwC report claims (stock image)
- Companies will grow to such a scale that some will become more powerful than nation states
- Firms will push past the limits of human ability by investing in augmentation technology, medication and implants to give their people the edge
- Human effort, automation, analytics and innovation will combine to push performance in the workplace to its limits
- Human effort will be maximised through the use of physical and medical enhancement techniques and equipment
- Workers' performance and wellbeing will be measured, monitored and analysed at every step
- Companies will provide many services including children's education, eldercare and healthcare
- Firms will monitor and measure obsessively, from the location of their workforce to their performance, health and wellbeing – both in and outside the workplace
- Organisations will use the data to predict performance and importantly, to anticipate people risk
The London-based firm's latest report draws on a survey of over 10,000 people across the UK, Germany, China, India and the US.
It examines four potential worlds of work in 2030, with competing forces shaping the employment landscape in each.
The emphasis placed on the importance of people, business, innovation and the environment will shape how heavily each of the four scenarios will impact the future.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence will affect every level of businesses and its people whatever the case, the report warns.
And megatrends including shifts in global economic power, depleted fossil fuels, extreme weather, increases in global population and an ageing workforce will also shape the landscape.
In a world where business is put first and 'corporate is king', workers will have to strive to stay ahead and use every advantage at their disposal.
The report states that, in this world, 'human effort is maximised through sophisticated use of physical and medical enhancement techniques and equipment, and workers' performance and well-being are measured, monitored and analysed at every step.
'A new breed of elite super-workers emerges.'
PwC says 70 per cent would consider using treatments to enhance their brain and body if this improved their employment prospects in the future.
To understand why this might be, the company examined people's attitude toward work.
Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of people surveyed by PwC said they saw it as their personal responsibility, and not their employers, to keep their skills up to date.
In a statement Jon Williams, partner and joint global leader of people and organisation at PwC said: 'The report outlines four very different worlds, each with huge implications for how we know work today.
'None of us can know with any certainty what the world will look like in 2030, but its likely facets of the four worlds will feature in some way and at some time.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence will affect every level of businesses and its people whatever the case, the report warns (stock image). Physical enhancement techniques and equipment could become the norm to keep up
It may sound like something from 2011 thriller Limitless, but researchers have discovered a pill that helps adults learn new skills as quickly as children.
A professor at Harvard rewired the brain of a visually impaired women to process images by giving her Alzheimer's drug donepezil.
The pill boosts chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are both found in high concentrations in the brains of young children.
These chemicals naturally reduce with age.
Children under seven develop new skills rapidly because their brains go through what's called 'critical periods' of development.
Due to high levels of certain chemicals and the fast growth of the brain, young children learn new languages, absorb information and pick up musical skills, for example, much faster than adults.
In adults, these skills become harder as the brain reaches peak development and loses this 'elasticity'.
'Machine learning and AI will help us do a much better job of workforce planning in the future, but we can't sit back and wait for the future of work to happen.
'Those organisations and workers that understand potential futures, and what each might mean for them, and plan ahead, will be best prepared to succeed.'
To many this may sound like a nightmare vision, similar to the world portrayed in the 1997 film Gattaca.
In it, Ethan Hawke's character Vincent Freeman dreams of becoming an astronaut but the society in which he lives is determined by eugenics.
This allows parents, especially the wealthy, to ensure their children inherit their best genetic traits.
Freeman who has inferior, natural, genes has to trick the system to realise his ambitions.
Despite the potential consequences to society, humanity seems ready to embrace other types of technological enhancement.
Companies are already offering microchip implants to their employees.
And a new generation of nootropics, drugs designed to improve cognitive abilities, have hit the headlines in recent years.
So it doesn't take much to imagine a future where such enhancements become the norm.
The majority of respondents (65 per cent) to the survey said that they believe technology will improve their job prospects.
Workers in the US (73 per cent) and India (88 per cent) were more confident than those in the UK (40 per cent) and Germany (48 per cent).
To many this may sound like a nightmare vision, similar to the world portrayed in the 1997 film Gattaca. In it Ethan Hawke's character Vincent Freeman (pictured) has to beat a society which views people like him, who have not had their genes enhanced, as inferior
Overall, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) believe technology will never replace the human mind and the majority (86 per cent) say human skills will always be in demand.
While respondents to the survey were positive about the impact of technology, with 37 per cent excited about the future world of work and seeing a world full of possibilities, there was still concern that automation is putting some jobs at risk.
Overall, 37 per cent of respondents believe automation is putting their job at risk, up from 33 per cent in 2014.
Megatrends including shifts in global economic power, depleted fossil fuels, extreme weather, increases in global population and an ageing workforce will also shape the landscape (stock image)
And over half (56 per cent) think governments should take action needed to protect jobs from automation.
Mr Williams added: 'Anxiety kills confidence and the willingness to innovate.
'With a third of workers worried about the future of their jobs due to automation, employers need to be having mature conversations now, to include workers in the technology debate.
'This will help them to understand, prepare and potentially upskill for any impact technology may have on their job in the future.
'The shift is nothing less than a fundamental transformation in the way we work, and organisations must not underestimate the change ahead.'
Swedish firm Epicenter hit the headlines in April for offering RFID implants to its employees.
The Startup offers workers microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards, to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.
The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.
But, experts say the ethical dilemmas will become bigger the more sophisticated the microchips become.
Self-described 'body hacker' Jowan Osterlund from Biohax Sweden, holds a small microchip implant, similar to those implanted into workers at the Epicenter digital innovation business centre during a party at the co-working space in central Stockholm
The technology in itself is not new. Such chips are used as virtual collar plates for pets.
Companies use them to track deliveries, but it's never been used to tag employees on a broad scale before.
Epicenter and a handful of other companies are the first to make chip implants broadly available.
And as with most new technologies, it raises security and privacy issues.
While biologically safe, the data generated by the chips can show how often an employee comes to work or what they buy.
Unlike company swipe cards or smartphones, which can generate the same data, a person cannot easily separate themselves from the chip.