The Office Age is coming to an end.
by Thomas Hanes on Aug 28, 2021
For the generations of knowledge workers, the office has been where all the work happens.
It was logical: it's an excellent strategy to bring those people into a central location when you have work to do and need others to do that work. So towns transformed into cities, and open-plan offices became crowded with cubicles.
Then the internet hit the scene, and work began to evolve.
Followed by growth in unimaginable ways with cloud and SaaS.
Yet, we continued to sardine ourselves into trains and traffic to maintain our everyday office-filled lives.
But time went on, and new collaboration tools began to emerge, selling themselves to make remote workers 'as productive as if they were in the office!' Continuing with the idea that the office is still this ideal place for teamwork rather than what it really is: a dying vision struggling to maintain what was happening inside while the world around it was rapidly changing.
The truth is that the office isn't the gold standard of productivity any longer. In fact, there's much less efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and work-life balance.
"Away from the office" does not mean "working remotely."
The last 10 years have revealed that these three influential forces are disrupting the assumption about the office being the ideal place for efficient work:
- Mobile networks, smartphones, and laptops. These three technological wonders mean that we no longer need to be stuck in the office at any time.
- Cloud computing and VPNs. These innovations in data management allow for our essential applications and data to be available anywhere in the world at any time – securely & safely.
- Collaboration platforms like ASANA. New online tools for project management & development provide an internationally accessible context for our colleagues and conversations anywhere.
These powerful & influential forces have been loosening the bonds of our work lives to the office. But until recently those who noticed these shifts were exclusively in the IT community. But not anymore.
Although full of challenges, the pandemic has also propelled forward the transition from office to remote working by 5-10 years in nearly a few months. This has been an unprecedented push forward in working norms. And, the impact has been felt on all levels of the workforce and culture.
The next normal: Hybrid working environments.
The pandemic has made clear some convincing truths which companies were already starting to discover but were not yet ready to transition into:
Employees prefer the flexibility and autonomy of working from home because parents see their kids more often, caregivers have great flexibility, and commuters reclaim their lives.
Working from home often increases productivity. So often, those fears about losing productivity are entirely unfounded.
It's not just about working from home; instead, it means working from anyplace, anytime, including airports, cafes, cottages, visits to family, etc. So literally anywhere can be a working space.
Working remotely saves on costs because workers & employers no longer have to spend money on office expenses, transport fares, parking, food, etc. All these things add up; imagine life without these expenses?
Offices are terrible for the environment. Offices have a significant carbon footprint, from their construction to heating & cooling, commuting, etc. It all adds up.
With these factors all taken into account, one can see just how strong a case has been made for our new hybrid paradigm of working remotely.
What comes next: Supporting remote working.
Not many companies are ready for 100% remote work; however, many are strongly considering how to intermix office & remote work.
The idea is to attract & keep talent while increasing productivity, cutting costs, and reducing environmental impact.
There's no time like the present to discover how the hybrid work model facilitates the option of working from anywhere. Meaning, it's time to learn how to facilitate a better more distributed & decentralized working style.
- Survey your workers and see which of your employees would welcome and prefer a work-from-home or hybrid work model. Find out how many days that they would like to work away from the office.
- Compare your competitors because talent will go elsewhere unless you have something to keep them on your team! Look at what others are doing and see where you can modify your work model to keep your business competitive.
- Take the move to remote work out for a test flight and see what works and what does not. Experiment with the best model for your company, and determine a strategy for migrating to a totally hybrid work life.
- Develop new rituals and overcome the challenges of a decentralized workforce. Make use of the technologies available, connect people, and transcend the assumptions about the office as being the only place to enjoy coffee hours and staff lunches. It's a brave new world!
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