Humans are such creatures of habit. There is something about familiarity – the same kettle, same desk, same chair, where one wakes up and routinely goes about getting ready for work, school and activities that feels important to us. Or is that really changing?
With offices down-sizing, if not even without an office – the idea of hot-desking, flexi-working and no office is fast becoming a reality, and some people are finding it hard to accept. Why? Working from home, commuting less and working smarter not harder is the new way in. The age of technology which allows us to be tech savvy and efficient is no longer the traditional way of being stuck at a desk for long, very long hours.
Be it international firms, startups or law firms, traditionally the trend may have been setting up a new office, a new location and being close to clients on the ground. However, one could potentially argue, that being flexible, flying in can be just as effect. These are no easy answers to what are strategic questions.
For instance, in the opening of the Korean legal market, many UK and US firms opened up firms in Seoul, likewise we have seen it done in other parts of the world. However, we have also seen successes and failures, hence there is no conclusive proof that having an office equates to success even by being geographically close.
From what we can see in trends, particularly from Silicon Valley, the trend of not having an office seems to be becoming more and more attractive. Will it become the next modus operandi?
Think Uber and Airbnb. They don’t own anything concrete like cars or buildings. Yet they have systems in place to facilitate the needs from the market.
By operating in a LEAN and slim fashion they take out all the unnecessary burdens associated with having an office – maintainence, bills and unused space.
That is not to say there is no resistance. Some leaders of industry may feel strong enough to quit just because they may lose their office space if they were to have open plan space. Why? What does this space mean to them? What does an office space represent? Does it increase/decrease their productivity?
One may say, we can change and shape society by changing our landscapes. Will having flatter systems, equate to fairer systems and more equitable ways of communication?
Think factories, gold mines and offshore companies – many times employees lived closeby if not on site to get work done. There are research parks, communal housing and people are huddling towards major cities.
What if people had amazing jobs and lived in more remote places? What if people helped build up societies which are deemed less desirable and regentrified the area?
Changing our mentality of how we lead our organisation, our employees, who we hire, how we work can change society – reducing travel time, emissions and gives people more time with families and neighbourhoods.
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