What future for the female boss?

OFFICE workers are marching towards a bright, relaxing, hi-tech future encumbered by stone-age views on female bosses, especially among women themselves.

While workplaces will become like flexible, informal "clubs", the overwhelming majority of women - and to a lesser extent their male colleagues - fervently hope they will be presided over by men.

Despite more than 20 years of equal opportunities and sex discrimination legislation, some 82 per cent of men and 86 per cent of females "hate" to be subordinate to a woman. In Scotland the proportion rises to a staggering 95 per cent for both genders, according to Pitman Training, which conducted research among 1,000 employers and employees in the United Kingdom.

More positively, researchers discovered that we have become a nation of "techno Brits" who crave the latest equipment and training on how to use it.

And experts predict that the typical office in 2010 will look more like a comfortably furnished private house with bright decor, workstations instead of desks and "video conference meeting posts".

The line between work and play will fade and the traditional nine-to- five working day will disappear, according to David Lewis, the psychologist whose consultancy prepared the report.

Dr Lewis said that the high- stress office of today was based on a culture of long hours and little time for social activity, but that that environment was going to change.

"The office of 2010 will be a hi-tech haven, with gadgetry revolutionising the way we work. Pleasure will be as much on the agenda as business. This will have a positive effect on family life as people will have increased leisure time and lower stress levels,"

Dr Lewis adds a word of warning however: "No matter how advanced silicon intelligence becomes, we are still going to reserve our warmest, deepest and truest emotions for those clumsy, illogical and infuriating bipedal, carbon-based life-forms known as human beings. If that simple truth is ever forgotten the offices of tomorrow won't have any future at all."

The present office environment gives little clue about the "relaxing hi-tech haven" of the future, the report concedes. Nine out of ten employees claim that work pressures and stress have increased significantly over the past few years, Office staff work an average 44 hours a week and more than half work through their lunch hour.

Managers work an average of 51 hours a week and one-third of them said that the long hours and a restricted social life were the worst aspects of being in charge.