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Does the office have a future?

It's an important question to ask. In the post GFC climate, companies are running a lot leaner with fewer staff. The lines between contractors popping in and employees are blurring.

Furthermore, we have many more people telecommuting and there is the rise of the Wi Fi Warriors, the people you see all over town in cafes, bars and restaurants tapping away on a lap top, their smart phone sitting next to the latte. They don't need the office.

A new survey reveals that six out of 10 workers around the world feel they don't need an office any more. They say they can work as productively at home or on the move as they can in the office and they want the tools and management flexibility to make that happen.

Are companies prepared to go down this direction?
A number are already in this space. Rentoid a NZ company, is a really cool local outfit that positions itself as the eBay of renting. Rentoid doesn't really have an office and has employees right around the world. It has 10 staff, 5 are local, the others are overseas, with coders in Russia and administrators in India.

Company founder of Rentoid said “I don't care where they are, I just care they get it done. I have never even met these people face to face. We just talk on Skype and chat. I trust them and they tell me how many hours it took to build a certain part of the website. I don't know how many hours but I know it's done and I trust them and I just pay them for the hours they said they did. We have never been an office. Everyone works where they want. I don't care where they are, I just care they do the job.

The point of that story is that you can run a good business these days without an office. Can we expect more companies to move in this direction? It's certainly a lot cheaper.
Or is it more that what we call the office will morph into different places? So the Wi Fi Warrior is in effect working from an office when they are sitting in a café. Similarly, people like myself are sitting at the office when they are working from home.

That means the office of the future is going to be three places: work, home and somewhere else. And that will create real management challenges for companies dealing with staff who need to do things like care for family members, from the old and frail to children.

The focus will have to be less about supervision and more about recruiting and managing the kind of people who can deliver results from anywhere.
It also means that corporations could emerge from the GFC renting less real estate.