Think about your workspace, what makes it unique, what benefits are there for working the same space as your coworkers. In an office you can walk over to a co-worker and show them a document you’ve been working on; need to hold a meeting? just grab a conference room down the hall, want to plan a lunch outing with coworkers? they are usually within earshot. The atmosphere of the office is something engrained in us from grade school through college, entered on the task at hand, hardcopies of all documentation, doors closed, butts in seats; full steam ahead. Just like classrooms, the workspace is unrecognizable to what it was 20 years ago. According to a study by Swiss company Zug 70% of the global workforce telecommutes at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half the week. As communication technology advances, it allows humans to spread further and further apart while remaining digitally no further than your keyboard or smartphone. It is estimated that almost 70% of jobs will be remote by 2025, and with studies showing the benefits of employees working remotely, the future it seems is set.
But this is hardly the first time the office workplace has seen a major shift due to improvements in technology. Slowly over the last century every piece of equipment has been converted to a digital process, starting with the switch from typewriters to word processor in the late 70’s. Before that the copy machine was being pioneered in an effort to make offices more efficient. In the 1980’s the fax machine went off with a bang, allowing businesses to send images back and forth over telephone lines. Most of the workforce doesn’t even remember when these changes took place, most weren’t even part of the workforce, and a smaller percent weren’t even born yet. The biggest change happened in the early 2000’s when the rise of global internet began to take shape. This spawned widespread consumer email, instant messaging, search engines, online marketplaces, social networks, and video chatting, giving users a way to chat face to face over great distances. The faster we can communicate the more efficiently we can work and collaborate, and up until now the fastest way to communicate was face to face, audio through telephones, so real work needed to be done locally. In our current working environment, you can utilize a mobile device almost anywhere and have a face to face conversation with someone across the state, continent, or globe.
We are currently in the midst of another major technological overhaul, with cloud storage and computing. The practice of using shared computer resources and storage without direct active management via the internet; So even the computers are working remotely.
As technology draws us closer, people are breaking free of unified locations; ditching the commute to the city for logging into work from home or setting up a conference from a cozy coffee shop. The office isn’t the only thing going remote. Educational institutions, college and high school alike; have begun to offer online degrees and hybrid courses, hybrid being a mixture of remote and on-campus learning. We can collectively commence the deconstruction of social norms, like 9-5 office jobs, hour long commutes, fluorescent overhead lighting…. distractions. We as humans rarely ever get things right the first time, we live at a point in time when traditions are being questioned in the light of scientifically conducted studies, and the construct of “that’s how we’ve always done it” doesn’t hold so much water anymore.