Saturday, February 14, 2015

Can the Physical Office go Mobile?

The debate about whether more or less work gets done by companies that allow their employees to work from home has been on a vigorous burn for a while, now. There are great arguments on both sides; here's one of the negative views on the practice. I happen to work for a company where many employees work remote from home almost exclusively. I am one of those people and I am never wanting for emails to send, milestones to complete, or objectives to hit on any given day.

But part of my background has certainly included positions with a daily commute, a corporate office atmosphere, and everything associated with that. It is on rare occasion I get to visit the offices of my present company, and to directly interact with those I otherwise work with via phone, Skype, or email. When I do get those chances, I am always appreciative for the opportunity to have more fluid and potentially serendipitous conversations between individuals I would not in any other time be able to simply pull aside. Such reflections would seem to indicate that telecommuting is for the birds, right?

Well, the increasing reality of work on the go, work-life integration, and the notion of the mobile office will make at least some of the arguments for the brick-and-mortar office moot. But the question is

  • can that office environment - that culture and feel - be made mobile, or can it at least be abstracted beyond the physical structure of HQ? 
  • Are social media and project platforms like JIRA or Confluence enough to facilitate this?
  • Will telepresence eventually solve this?
  • Are all the pieces to solve this problem already out there, but lacking in cohesiveness to be a viable solution?

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