The Future Office… the non-office?

bret talley

Is the non-office destined to be the 21st century.  Right now, my office is digital.  It doesn’t exist.  More and more I see people, especially entrepreneurs, that just don’t need them to run a business.  As technology grows, it is easier and less costly for a business to run this way in order to cut expenses.

How can a business with tons of overhead and fixed monthly costs of leases, taxes, utilities, expensive printers, cubicals, and a whole mess of other costs think about comparing pricing to a silimar non-office mobile business?  They can’t.

Those cubicles all cost money.  If a company has been in business any length of time, they are probably making money… Those costs get transferred somewhere.  Usually to a customer in the price of goods.   A percentage of the products you buy go to paying for a huge waste of space sometimes.

Now granted, there are pluses to an office environment, like team building… and big companies love seeing asses in seats for some reason.. but I venture to say that an office makes a person no more productive than if they worked mobile.  Actually, it may lower productivity due to all the constant interruptions and time wasting involved with them.

A lot of sales organizations use cubes.  I guess they think it saves them money on not having offices for salespeople.  As a previous salesperson, everyone hates them.   Nosy neighbors can hear your every move.  I venture to say, that if you make 50 prospecting calls at Starbucks or at home in boxers, there’s really no difference between that and making them in a suit in an office, except for being a little more uncomfortable.

Instead of hiring seat fillers, companies should focus more on hiring the best talent.  I’m convinced that great people, workers, and leaders will work hard regardless of their environment, just as lazy people will find a way to be lazy even with the strictest of micro-managing.  Good stretch and attainable goals and reward systems  should be worked on harder than strict rules and punishments.  That method is usually counter productive and shuts people off.  Most companies fear loss of control though.  They like keeping all employees on their services, with their devices, keeping all the information internal, and having asses in seats from 8:30-5:30…

That reminds me actually, what happened to 9-5?  Where’d this extra hour of office time get logged in here?  How did society squeak an extra hour in there?  What’s up with that?  Maybe an extra hour got tacked on due to all the water cooler time  losses.

People don’t want to be constrained.  As technology grows, people request more freedom from an employer… but it seems like the more technology grows, the more limitations a lot of businesses try to put on people.

As the technology moves exponentially faster every year, there’s little need for office space for many industries.  If you manufacture or distribute physical products, this may be tough, but for a lot of new and growing industries in computers, technology, information, data, digital space, and online media, there isn’t much need for one.  They can easily become a big square waste of money with cubicles and gigantic printers.

“What about meetings?”  I can hear the cry of managers already.. First of all, most meetings are a waste of time, and pretty much all of them can be done in under an hour if they are run efficiently.  Most meetings are actually just to fill time when people don’t know what to do, or because they feel like they “have to”.  Try cancelling your next meeting.  The world will go on, and the company will survive.  Also, write down all the extra things you accomplished with that hour.  A meeting with 30 people is actually wasting 30 hours of productivity, not 1.  Some meetings I guess are necessary though, to keep goals set, and to review results or plan future ideas, but with technology nowadays, you can run a worldwide meting with Skype, join.me, GoToMeeting, or any other software, and make a few dollars selling your huge office roundtable.

“My clients want to meet at my office”  No they don’t.  In my 10+ years of selling, customers rarely if ever want to come to your office, and if they do, its probably because they themselves don’t have one.  Try Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, or a restaurant.  Even if you had 30 salespeople, and each expensed a lunch with a client every day for an entire month, it would still probably be less expensive than an offices monthly expenses, and you would probably close more business.  Also, there are companies that specialize in shared office space if you really need one sometimes.

Most business can be done electronically anymore, and as time goes on, I think it will become commonplace for the customers and clients of most businesses to be in different markets, or maybe even places you have never even been before.  If you have a product or service that someone needs the customer can be anywhere  in the world.

Are offices going to end up as big gigantic relics like typewriters, or the Zack Morris cell phone?  Probably not… old companies hate this idea  and probably won’t change anything, until they start losing contracts to younger, hipper companies that have less costs to pay for.

So next time someone shows off their big flashy office to you, ask yourself if it’s like Vegas casinos, where the house always wins.  They didn’t build that house.  You did.

 

 

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