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Office Of Tomorrow 18527
Office Of Tomorrow 18527

Office Of Tomorrow 18527

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  • Pages: 8 (3782 words)
  • Published: October 18, 2018
  • Type: Analysis
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In an increasing number of companies, traditional office space is giving way to community areas and empty chairs as employees work from home, from their cars or from virtually anywhere. Advanced technologies and progressive HR strategies make these alternative offices possible.Imagine it s 2 o clock on a Wednesday afternoon. Inside the dining room of many nationwide offices, Joe Smith, manager of HR, is downing a sandwich and soda while wading through phone and e-mail messages. In front of him is a computer equipped with a fax-modem is plugged into a special port on the dining table. The contents of his briefcase are spread on the table. As he sifts through a stack of paperwork and types responses into the computer, he periodically picks up a cordless phone and places a call to a colleague or associate. As he talks, he sometimes wanders across the room. To be sure, this is t your ordinary corporate environment.

Smith does t have a permanent desk or workspace, nor his own telephone. When he enters the ad agency s building, he checks out a portable Macintosh computer and a cordless phone and heads off to whatever nook or cranny he chooses. It might be the company library or a common area under a bright window. It could even be the dining room or Student Union, which houses punching bags, televisions and a pool table. Wherever he goes, a network forwards mail and phone pages to him and a computer routes calls, faxes and e-mail messages to his assigned extension. He simply logs onto the firm s computer system and accesses

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his security-protected files.He is not tethered to a specific work area nor forced to function in any predefined way. Joe Smith spends mornings, and even sometimes an entire day, connected from home via sophisticated voicemail and E-mail systems, as well as a pager. His work is process and task-oriented. As long as he gets everything done, that s what counts. Ultimately, his productivity is greater and his job-satisfaction level is higher. And for somebody trying to get in touch with him, its easy. Nobody can tell that Joe might be in his car or sitting at home reading a stack of resumes in his pajamas.

The call gets forwarded to him wherever he s working. You ve just entered the vast frontier of the virtual office a universe in which leading-edge technology and new concepts redefine work and job functions by enabling employees to work from virtually anywhere. The concept allows a growing number of companies to change their workplaces in ways never considered just a few years ago. They re scrapping assigned desks and conventional office space to create a bold new world where employees telecommute, function on a mobile basis or use satellite offices or communal work areas that are free of assigned spaces with personal nick nacks. IBM, AT&T, Travelers Corporation, Pacific Bell, Panasonic, Apple Computer and J.C. Penney are among the firms recognizing the virtual-office concept. But they re just a few. The percentage of U.S. companies that have work-at-home programs alone has more than doubled in the past five years

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from 7% in 1988 to 18% today. In fact, New York-based Link Resources, which tracks telecommuting and virtual-office trends, has found that 7.6 million Americans now telecommute a figure that s expected to swell to 25 million by the year 2000.

And if you add mobile workers those who use their cars, client offices, hotels and satellite work areas to get the job done there s an estimated 1 million more virtual workers. Both companies and employees are discovering the benefits of virtual arrangements. Businesses that successfully incorporate them are able to slash real-estate costs and adhere to stringent air-quality regulations by curtailing traffic and commuters. They re also finding that by being flexible, they re more responsive to customers while retaining key personnel who otherwise might be lost to a cross-country move or a newborn baby. And employees who successfully embrace the concept are better able to manage their work and personal lives. Left for the most part to work on their own terms, they're often happier, as well as more creative and productive. Of course, the basic idea of working away from the office is nothing new. But today, high-speed notebook computers, lightning-fast data modems, telephone lines that provide advanced data-transmission capabilities, portable printers and wireless communication are starting a quiet revolution. As a society, we re transforming the way we work and what s possible.

It s creating tremendous opportunities, but it also is generating a great deal of stress and difficulty. There are tremendous organizational changes required to make it work. As markets have changed as companies have downsized, streamlined, and restructured many have been forced to explore new ways to support the work effort. The virtual office, or alternative office, is one of the most effective strategies for dealing with these changes. Of course, the effect of alternative officing on the HR function is great. HR must change the way it hires, evaluates employees and terminates them. It must train an existing workforce to fit into a new corporate model. There are issues involving benefits, compensation and liability. And, perhaps most importantly, there s the enormous challenge of holding the corporate culture together even if employees no longer spend time socializing over the water cooler or in face-to-face meetings. When a company makes a commitment to adopt a virtual-office environment whether it s shared work-space or basic telecommuting it takes time for people to acclimate and adjust. If HR can t meet the challenge, and employees don t buy in, then the program is destined to fail. Virtual offices break down traditional office walls. Step inside one and you quickly see how different an environment the concept has created.

Gone are the cubicles in which employees used to work. In their place are informal work carrels and open areas where any employee whether it s the CEO or an administrative assistant can set up shop. Teams may assemble and disperse at any given spot, and meetings and conferences happen informally wherever its convenient. Only a handful of maintenance workers, phone operators and food-services personnel, whose flexibility is limited by their particular jobs, retain any appearance of a private

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