Forget paperless – the future is office-less!
While much has been said about the paperless future, there’s perhaps a bigger trend that businesses need to be aware of – and that’s the officeless business.
The workplace has reconfigured over past decades from private offices to cubicles, and now the seemingly obligatory open plan layout is coming in for criticism. It may well be that some people just have a problem with working out of an office — rather than their homes.
In response to this, a growing number of companies are taking a more radical stance and doing away with offices altogether, relying on collaborative tools, facilitated by cloud technology and ‘always on’ technology.
Open source software startup NodeSource is a good example of this ‘open wall’ philosophy. The business has no headquarters and operates virtually using cloud-based tools like Google Hangouts, Slack, and Dropbox. The company’s employees are scattered across America, as well as in London and Singapore – and only get together as a whole team once a year (although the management team does get together more frequently). The company continues to grow, so for them it’s working.
Those businesses that have successfully gone officeless all say that the most important element of business to get right is communication.
Emails and smartphones have quickly revolutionised the way a business communicates within itself. Collaboration tools such as Google hangouts, Dropbox and Asana have been created. Video conferencing – including professional set-ups, not just skype on a mobile – make meetings so much easier and they’re tumbling in price. If workers have the right attitude and want to communicate then it’s as easy to do it remotely as it is traipsing up three flights of stairs to find the person you wanted to speak to isn’t at their desk!
Anytime access, anywhere
Then, crucially, there’s access to documents. Happily, cloud-based managed document solutions allow documents to be accessed whenever, wherever (subject to a data connection, of course), edited, annotated and shared within a team or the wider organisation.
While the NodeSource model, and the thought of going completely officeless, might be a step too far, cloud management of documents brings benefits to just about any business; especially in this world where mobility is crucial.
Requiring access to documents wherever and whenever is now the norm. It could be that a document is required when visiting a regional office. That same document might be needed when in a meeting off-site or when making a sales pitch to a client. An employee might need to visit the doctor so it would be beneficial for them to access documents at home. Or, an unexpected flurry of snow might stop them getting to work. The scenarios are endless – which makes the benefits of cloud-based document management, and the ability to print from the cloud, highly valuable!
The way we work is changing. Demand for mobility and remote working will only continue to rise, facilitated by technology and the desire of employees for more flexibility and an improved work-life balance. Who knows, going officeless might be the solution?