The success of smart working is driving organizations to design different scenarios for work and workplace. A large number of companies welcome smart working while leaving the collaborator the freedom to work in the office or anywhere else. Finally, more and more companies, called “location-independent“, have decided to not have an office and to make their collaborators only work remotely.
The last trend is the online office thanks to software that simulates the physical workspace that still many people feel the need.
Some companies reject smart working by postponing the change at a future time that will sooner or later come. But those companies that decide not to have an office make a bold choice, but it is not without sense. In most cases, it is a shared choice with their collaborators. Recently, Automattic, the company that develops CMS WordPress, has decided to sell its offices in San Francisco: 1400sqm of open space offices with many attractions. The reason for the sale is simple: 5-6 collaborators go to the office, while everyone else prefers to work remotely.
Buffer is another company that after a few years of working in an office has decided to leave it to let its collaborators have the freedom to work where they prefer.
The “location-independent” companies have made their choice an extra reason to invest in corporate culture and create a strong team sense. They also have perks and benefits to capture new talents remotely and keep those that are already present, for example they reimburse those who decide to work in a co-working.
When we talk about working in an office or working remotely, people can be divided into two groups: some prefer to work remotely and gladly give up the office; others need the office as a place of aggregation and relationship that give meaning to the word work.
Millennials and even more the generation Z usually approve remote working and often require it. Previous generations are opening up to smart working thanks to higher quality of life and work.
A new trend: the virtual online office.
Among these new ways of working and generational incentive there are companies that work in an online office. This means that employees use software that simulates the physical space of an office. For now the spaces are drawn in 2D, but the 3D step is close because companies like Facebook are already integrating Oculus Rift technology.
These softwares have nothing to do with second life or ludic use of virtual spaces.
The purpose of an online office is to recreate the personal proximity and functionality of a physical space that is needed for teams to work together remotely. Teams are co-localized online in an office designed on a visual map with avatars representing people within virtual space.
The rooms and common spaces of this virtual office simulate the kitchen, the space with a relaxing couch, the rooms where you are very focused and do not want to be disturbed. The concept is very similar to the design of the spaces according to their function. The policy of such a space describes how to behave internally.
My personal experience has improved a long way since I joined Virtual Team Talk, an international co-working space where different professionals meet and work in the space created by the service sococo.com.
In this space it may happen that I am in the “casual” room together with a person and I take the opportunity to know him or her.
Or else I am in the “very focused” room where everyone is very focused and I will not venture to disturb my colleagues. I can go to the “open discussion” room for a remote brainstorming where all the colleagues have the webcam on.
In the “after party” room I can informally get to know my colleagues after work.
With the passing of time the feeling of closeness of your colleagues is undeniable. Working in a remote team often gives the feeling of not knowing what your colleagues are doing: whether they are working on computers or are out for a commission.
Integration with tools that facilitate communication is already advanced. Also with this work mode, people are free to go and come into virtual space by communicating their presence to others.
The global movement of remote workers is growing constantly and an online office can help simulate a physical space that still many people feel the need.
Choosing to adopt smart working so that a collaborator can choose when to work in the office, and when to work remotely, following a clear company policy, it looks even better with the use of an online office.
Text by Giovanni Battista Pozza, Digital Entrepreneur.
Photo Automattic: credit Scott Beale https://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/
Photo Office online: Virtual Team Talk Sococo