David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment, explains the pros and cons of a desk-less office.
Technology has advanced dramatically over the past few decades, which has consequently changed our working environment. With laptops, tablets and smartphones in our reach, we are constantly connected to others in both our professional and personal lives at any time of the day.
Mobile phones are one device that a majority of us now use for work purposes, with emails synced to pick up on any work-related matter anywhere at any time. This has subsequently changed our office culture, introducing new working environments. We can now work from a coffee shop, restaurant or even on a train.
The role of technology in the workplace has inspired plenty of debate. Yahoo boss Marissa Meyer publicly announced that her employees were not allowed to work from home as she believes working in the office will nurture greater “communication and collaboration” however Vodafone UK found that businesses could potentially save around £34 billion by freeing up desk space and working more flexibly.
Working virtually does give you the ability to choose an environment that you feel most comfortable to work in, or even a variety of locations, which may mean less time commuting, giving you a healthier work-life balance.
In order to work virtually and with a team, members would need excellent communications skills and a clear structure. If members of the team are based in different countries there may be the slight issue of cultural challenges, but on the other hand it could provide a valuable range of perspectives and ideas.
Another aspect of working virtually is not being part of a team – some may prefer it, others may find it solitary. Peter Klein, Google’s CFO says: “there is something magical about spending time together and creating new ideas”. Whereas Richard Branson comments: “that we are in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever, so ideas could be created just as effectively virtually.” There may also be the stressful thought of having to find suitable business meeting points – one area Business Environment can always help with.
Another aspect, which is ultimately down to the individual, is switching off. Working in a relaxed environment may make you feel the need to respond to emails or work late on a project. Or a lack of routine could have the potential to create unwanted stress and time management issues.
There are many pros and cons to working virtually, and it is definitely not going away any time soon. Equally businesses don’t necessarily need to integrate it into their working practice. The solution is to try out all variations of working within your business and see what suits you best.
David Saul is Managing Director of Business Environment.