All about ideas…

Is the virtual office the wave of the future?

with 12 comments

Wondering about this question, I asked the marketing/advertising people on LinkedIn if they thought the marketing communications staff needed to be on-site to do their work or if they thought the staff could do their work just as effectively offsite, given all the latest technological tools that exist now.

The responses so far are about 50-50. There were those who firmly believed that face-to-face (or more accurately, bodily person-to-bodily person) was an absolute requirement to managing not just the work but also the relationships. They said that without that person-to-person contact and office setting the results would suffer – not just from lack of collaboration but from a failure of dedication to the work.

One person put it this way,

…. I don’t agree to the validity of working from home. However dilligent and honest you be with your work, it’s a normal human tendency to start deviating once he does not get the ambience and the environment for the work. You think if you are at home and working and all of a sudden someone from your family asks for something won’t you respond? Being at office you may ignore but at home 8 out of 10 times you may not. Hence it will essentially reduce the quality of your work.

On the other hand, the second group replied saying that if the staff did not require an office setting for companionship and socialization (and in one response, supervision) to insure the work was accomplished, then the latest technological tools – videoconferencing, high speed broadband, SaaS, etc. – that are available now make it possible to just as productive, if not more productive, than being in the office. Moreover, these people specifically pointed out in their responses the significant cost savings to the company from having their staff working remotely which they saw as a positive to the company’s bottom line.

Yes, there are social benefits to being in the office – but I got those once per month when I was there and ask any of my co-workers if they thought it was tough to communicate with me when I was home – it was just the opposite. I was much more accessible at home vs the office due to all the meetings and “social” interactions.

Everyone agreed, though, that only some people – those who are highly dedicated to their jobs and the success of their company and who do not need social environment of an office setting – would be successful in a virtual office.

As one person stated,

We have learned from experience… employed project managers who just didn’t click with homeworking, some weren’t able to be productive and focussed without an office environment, some got demotivated, some weren’t able to work as part of a team that they couldnt see face to face – it really doesnt suit everyone (or even everyone who is initially attracted by the idea).

But the right team, combined with the fantastic technological options currently available, makes remote/home/virtual/cloud whatever not-all-in-the-same office working, absolutely the right option for us.

Who was it said, ‘work is something you do, not somewhere you go’ – perfect.

What is your opinion? Do you think that the virtual office is the wave of the future? Do you think companies will accept this model? A respondent wrote:

Companies are still reluctant to promote remote working. For some part this is due to the fact it is in some ways a new development and most of us are followers and not leaders. It needs a complete new approach of working a lot of companies are simply not ready for.

Also, most of the managers show behaviour that is contra productive for working remote. They derive a feeling of control by knowing people are on sight when in fact it is the result that counts. So it all boils down to trust.

Simply letting people work remote without stimulating the appropriate behaviour needed from the workers as well as from the manager, is bound to lead to problems. As soon as there is a work relation build on trust and result, remote working will be a logical step.

Do you agree? Will more and more companies see the value of virtual offices as gas prices rise, traffic congestion and commute times increase, global warming continues. Or will companies continue to require their employees to work in the company offices?


12 Responses

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  1. Good article. In my personal opinion, I think virtual office is the wave of the future. It is more cost effective for a business to use these virtual office services. If they are just as effective as the same services done non-virtually, it is hard to see why a company would not want virtual assistance.

  2. I think it really depends on the job. When I am working on AdWords, Analytics and the like, there really is no need for me to be in the office. When I am working on programming, there sometimes is and I actually prefer it at times. It might take 5 minutes to sit with a project manager and get something hammered out that would take close to an hour on the phone. That being said, I think the advent of Virtual Office has been great for the business world. There are some features like internet fax and voicemail that have saved me loads of time. I switched over toe RingCentral about a year ago and because of all of the extra features, I doubt I will ever go to the more traditional way of communicating.

    Great article. Keep up the good work!


    July 21, 2009 at 5:57 PM

  3. Virtual offices are definitely becoming more and more popular. A lot of companies that provide office space for businesses are now offering virtual space. This is beneficial to both businesses. Because these virtual services are so helpful and useful, I think it will be implemented even more in the near future.

  4. Person-type-dependent and task-type dependent. I just put in 12hours at home. I average 10/day.


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