The expense of maintaining an office can cripple, or even destroy, a business. Worse yet, it is damage you can avoid. The development of new, super robust technologies is eliminating the need for the traditional workplace.
While for the last several decades there have been extraordinary technological advances providing powerful tools to help people perform their jobs, technology has not fundamentally changed the way people work. For the most part, we still commute to a central workplace, work fixed hours at a desk or counter or machine, and then go home at the end of the workday. So what is it about this particular moment in time that is different?
A large part of the catalyst for change is an explosive increase in computer power, now expanding so rapidly that it is radically transforming the way people work. We are now at a tipping point where the power of computer chips, sensors, Internet broadband and cloud storage is creating a platform for powerful work technologies that will make the traditional office obsolete.
Why do people come to a central office? To use paper documents and computers, and to work with colleagues. However,computers in the workplace are becoming unnecessary as workers are now transitioning to tablets and smartphones, paper files are being replaced by virtual files, and coworkers are increasingly located around the country and the globe. In the near future, everyone will have a virtual screen so they can obtain all of the information they need to work anytime and anywhere, while maintaining continual contact with their colleagues.
These extraordinary new technologies will be quickly adapted. We will perform faster and more efficiently with less overhead cost. The game changer will be productivity and economics. Up to now, while work technologies offered great economic advantages, the technologies have not been sufficiently robust to provide a solid foundation for a revolutionary new virtual work world. But that is about to change as the convergence of omnipotent chips, clouds and sensors provide the catalyst for a virtual work infrastructure.
Companies with brick and mortar offices will be disadvantaged. Businesses that continue to communicate with employees and customers in the old fashioned way through face-to-face meetings in traditional offices will be overwhelmed by those companies that hire the best and brightest talent, regardless of location, and collaborate in a virtual communication stream with split-second access to all the information they need.
Companies and individuals who are the first to adopt and implement virtual work technologies will defeat their competitors. Amazon, recognizing the advantage of online shopping, seized the beachhead creating a virtual business. We will see this in every industry.
Technology is freeing up entrepreneurs to operate without crushing office overhead so that they can focus on what really matters: innovation and productivity. Those leaders that take advantage of it will thrive.