Ever since the proliferation of Home internet and more recently with widespread and easily accessible WIFI, the question has been posed as to whether the 'office' will at some stage become defunct. Or possibly a place with a series of ‘hot desks’ where workers can come in as needs be, log into any hot desk, attend a couple of meetings and be on their way. I think in some ways it’s a bit of a pipedream for employees (mainly) and in some aspects for employers. For the former the potential advantages are obvious and for the later they could see a lowering of overheads.
Articles such as: http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/news/2258053/business-culture-hinders-remote and http://blogs.hbr.org/trapani/2009/06/master-the-art-of-working-with.html or less so http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article2980514.ece promote this use of technology to better the work life balance of busy modern professionals.
What isn’t mentioned as often is the fact that WIFI, Crackberry’s, laptops etc. Have actually meant that employees, rather than being freed to work as and when and where they want but rather they become attached to their ‘office’ 24/7. People checking their work emails on the golf course, tube at gigs has become tragically normal.
Having said that, there are a small number of professionals that WIFI/Blackberry’s etc have allowed them to live the dream. Journalists, writers, some small businessmen (largely internet based) are now able to roam the earth at their pleasure whilst still being able to earn an income. The lifestyle lacks structure and you are at the behest of a decent internet connection but for an increasing number the concept of this lifestyle itself is very alluring. And it’s easy to see why.
However for the vast majority this ‘pipedream lifestyle’ will and has to remain exactly that. Many people simply require the structure that an office environment provides and I think the personal interaction in an office situation is more stimulating and provides a more time efficient atmosphere than remote working. Most office jobs require meetings, the ability to discuss situations and the like on a instantaneous basis, something that the internet promises but simply cannot deliver. Yes, there is video conferencing, Skype, messenger, email etc etc but something is lost without face to face interaction.
This may not always be the case but I think for now employers can be safe in the knowledge that they can still maintain control of their staff by the very means they always have, geography.