Soon you will see, dangling from someone’s key chain, a 64-gig memory stick.
In that one moment, you will fully understand what I am about to say: The end is near of the office building as the predominant environment for “office work”.
I see the office building being replaced by the virtual office and I see this as something that will happen over this generation.
The opportunity is out there. Technically, there is an ever-growing capability for the virtual office. The Internet is getting faster allowing greater opportunities for communication, whether that is through e-mail, voice and even video conferencing, document sharing and collaboration and high-volume file transfer.
The tools required for the job are becoming more and more portable: from Blackberrys that allow you to be connected all the time from anywhere, to 64-gig USB hard drives that allow you carry your entire office with you in a coat pocket, to laptops that will fit into manila envelopes.
The demand is growing. You don’t have to do a lot of reading or even be paying much attention to know that the new “Generation X” is very different from the older. They tend to dislike institutional authority, see their security based on performance not tenure, demand a flexible work environment with higher levels of freedom and demand more life in their life/work balance.
Freedom and flexibility to perform without looming authority are all provided in this virtual work environment.
Change is slow because those in power are generally there because of the way things are and they don’t want to see that change.
However, the power is shifting to the younger generation of employees and away from the older generation of employers; this is because of the many retiring baby boomers leaving behind more jobs than can be filled by the smaller population of GenXers.
If people do want the work environment I forsee, they can ask for it and, if they don’t get it, wait. There are more jobs than job seekers, someone will give them what they are looking for or they will do it freelance.
This idea of a new work environment will be dismissed by some as impossible fantasy, seen by some as a guarantee of decreased productivity and create great excitement in others.
As co-owner of Beese Entertainment, the publisher of this paper, Mark Beese works in a modern office: a web of home-based employees and contractors that make the most of technology.