The offices of 2017 are very different to those of 50, 20 or even 10 years ago. Technology is revolutionising how we work every day, not least in how we connect and communicate. The workplace culture is catching up fast, too: people who entered the workforce when conference calling, screen-sharing, and checking emails on your phone on the train home began to change how things work are now in their thirties and starting to take management positions.
People who’ve grown up knowing they can sign into their email account wherever they are in the world, and back their files up to the cloud to download wherever and whenever they need them naturally question if they need to go to a specific building to do the job they could do from home. Some companies have resisted this trend: Yahoo banned remote working for a period in 2013, citing the alchemy of having people together in the same place. “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings” was new CEO Marissa Hayes’ rationale. Other managers might have concerns over keeping tabs on staff who they don’t have in their eye line.
Overall though, the trend is for remote working being accepted as the new normal, whether that’s as a component of the normal working week with Friday’s being a designated ‘work from home day’, or teams accepting that they’ll never meet some of their members in person. If you want the expertise of someone specific who lives in another part of the world, you can now find a way to work with them, if moving isn’t practical. Video Game designer Alexis Kennedy has contributed to Bioware’s Dragon Age Franchise despite the core company being based in Canada and his own flat being in the UK. He starts by catching up with emails sent overnight, and by mid-afternoon can dial into meetings the core team have alongside their morning coffee.
Wherever you are the world, thanks to the companies that provide instant international phone top up, there is no barrier to providing your expertise and collaborating with colleagues elsewhere. The world is definitely shrinking for professionals and the death knell is sounding for traditional office based work. While some may find it hard to adjust, the new opportunities and flexibility more than compensate.