The Day After — an Officeless World?
In these troubled times, when a number of people remain confined to their homes, it is tempting to think what the world might look like next.
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In the consultancy company I work for, 99% of us are now working from home. All this was done in a very few days. On the evening of Friday 13 March, I was still thinking of going to my client's office, but only on Monday to facilitate the logistical aspects of a full day's meetings.
But overnight, confirmation was received that I should only go to my client's office if absolutely necessary. So the logistics will pass! It's the evening of Tuesday, March 14th when I write this article, and the episode I'm living and sharing with many of us is just beginning. However, I think there will really be a before and after these events.
Telework Becoming More Widespread?
Of course, there's a lot to be said about how these events will change, by making assumptions, contradictory analyses, risky predictions. But what is certain is that these events will prove to those who doubted it that telework works! So no, the next day we will all come back to our offices, spend some time at the coffee machine to enjoy our colleagues, look forward to seeing them again and have human contacts again. But no one will say that teleworking doesn't work (at least, for those who can, slack won't help you much to work in a factory).
However, there are a number of drivers that may lead to telework becoming more widespread, or at worst to working close to home:
- Of course the current popularization of telework
- The aspirations of Generation Z for a better balance in their personal and professional life
- The development of collaborative tools and their popularization
- Environment and raw material issues: What's the point of spending a fortune on petrol and polluting the planet driving to work, when I can wake up an hour later and work from home?
- The ultra-mechanization of the factories, which will need less personnel.
- And more hypothetical, the relocation of factories (if petrol becomes expensive in the future, why produce at 10.000 km from home?) which will lead to making it easier to work from home (I can do administrative work at home, at worst I am 5 minutes away from the factory).
Relocation Rather Than Globalization?
What is "remarkable" about the spread of this virus is precisely that it is because we travel a lot, we use public transport a lot, we meet a lot of people, that the virus has spread so much. At the same time, we see that the logistics chains are struggling to keep up when everyone wants to buy paracetamol and toilet paper all at the same time.
Outside the most resilient systems are the most local. How is this going to materialize? Maybe not right away, but our lives are likely to be more local, and less global, while still being able to work with people from all over the world. Perhaps we will see the emergence of a web 3.0, which will truly be able to organize the local with the global.
All of that means that there are still many topics to work on when we speak about organization and agility, and we can be quite sure that we won't work the same way as now in some years.
In any case, take care of yourself and your loved ones!
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