The New Office: Your Lap

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

The office. It’s a dreaded workspace for many, for others it’s a grand tradition (and, for a few, it’s just a funny TV show). However you see it, the office as it exists now is evolving. Have a look at yours. Does it resemble the standard Dilbert-esque vision rife with miles and miles of identical cubicles, Sticky-Notes, and studded with those ever-flattering fluorescent tubes? Or is it simpler setup- a laptop on your lap?

These days, companies are rethinking the way we work. The new workspace, called non-territorial or non-assigned workspaces, resemble a modern version of musical chairs. Employees come to work and find their spot. This model works for Cisco Systems. At other companies, such as Bank of America, employees can reserve spaces or meeting rooms. Others (think IBM) don’t even have offices.

Mind you, the concept of the paperless office isn’t new. It’s been floating around since the 1940’s. The Atlantic featured a series on Memex machines, theoretical proto-hypertext computer systems that were to function as self-contained research libraries, in 1945. Life Magazine soon followed with illustrations. And, of course, we can’t forget gems like The Jetsons, or Brazil, or even Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Although, we’re not quite hovercraft bound, the future of the office is increasingly flexible and mobile. Employees will no longer be confined to the cubicle. The advent of wireless technologies, smartphones, teleconferencing and the Web 2.0 cloud has made the office as we know it, a thing of the past. Today, virtual is the way to go.

With Web 2.0 start-ups sprouting up worldwide, the new office is the bedroom, the kitchen, library, your lap or wherever’s most convenient. Take virtual worlds content producer The Electric Sheep Company for example. It has employees all over the world; startup reviewer Killerstartups is based in Buenos Aires and Uruguay with writers from everywhere else, and MemeBox itself stretches from California to New York to New Delhi.

So, what does this mean for you? If you work in areas like tech, sales, finance, you get more freedom and leverage for work. You can work anywhere, anytime. For companies, less office space means cutting down real estate costs and boasting a tempting model for prospective employees.

Who knows, in the near-future you too may be working in your pajamas.

Comment Thread (1 Response)

  1. Either a near-term depression or another spike in gas prices could kick this trend into even higher gear.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   October 10, 2008
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