In today's connected world, most employees can work anywhere they have an internet connection. Thanks to cloud technology, email, and video conferencing, more and more workers are choosing flexible schedules where they can work from home, a coffee shop, or a co-working location. So what's the point of offices, and why do they still exist? Offices traditionally served as a place for people to get their work done, but an office isn't required for that anymore. However, no matter how connected and mobile we get, offices aren't going anywhere, especially when they serve three main purposes:
- Foster collaboration and communication. Even with the best technology, there's only so much collaboration you do virtually. Things just seem to flow better, and co-workers can communication more clearly, when they are in the same physical space. Even casual collaboration and communication, like bumping into a co-worker while getting coffee or sharing a bus with someone on the way into the office, creates a stronger bond amongst employees and allows ideas and communication to flow more smoothly. Organizations realize the importance of this, which is why many of them still require employees to show up in the office even just one day a week, no matter how flexible their schedule.
- Build transparency. The future of work is all about employee flexibility, but managers still want to see what their employees are working on. By being in the same office, employees at every level can have a better idea of what is going on in the company and what their colleagues are up to, which can help them see their role in the larger goals of the organization. Being in an office also gives employees more accountability for their work. When employees can see and interact with managers and executives in the office, it minimizes the chances for office scandal and illegal activity--after all, it's harder for leaders to move money or make bad trades if there are other people around to see what's happening. Many organizations follow the example of Facebook, which has an open office space where even CEO Mark Zuckerberg works among his employees, creating a flatter atmosphere and a more cohesive company culture, which could never be done without an office.
- Create an experience. This is the top reason offices still exist, and it is growing more important as the future of work builds. A growing number of companies are turning towards more creative office spaces with sleek architecture, open spaces, and lots of perks. These offices don't just exist so employees can have fun--their purpose is to create an employee experience. When employees have a fun place with programs and perks, they are excited to come to work and feel more connected to the company. An experienced-based office is a competitive advantage because it helps employees feel valued and gives them a place they want to come. A great example of an experience-based office is SquareSpace in New York City. The company offers perks like great benefits, as well as catered meals, full kitchens, relaxation spaces, guest lecturers, regular celebrations, and more. Paired with a beautiful, open office space, the environment helps employees feel valued and empowered and makes them want to come to work and give their best effort. It's no surprise that SquareSpace is regularly voted one of the best places to work in New York.
As we move forward, more companies will start creating experiences in the office. Offices might be more than just simple workstations now, but they are still important to how an organization functions, and that won't go away any time soon.