Thesis: The idea of a virtual office is becoming a reality and is changing the traditional corporate culture forever.
I. Comment on traditional work
A. Companies visions for future
II. Visions for future becoming reality.
B. Prospects for year 2000.
C. Statistics: Office of technology, Department of transportation.
III. New ways companies will hire employees.
A. Example: New York Life.
B. Hiring on the Internet.
IV. Telecommuting works.
A. More productive.
B. Less expensive in long run.
A. Need to be together.
C. Alternatives to office.
Technology Changing the Cooperate Culture
Being in business has always meant being in an office. Regardless of how big your business was, you had to have an office. For most people, doing office work meant doing it in the office. That's all changing today. For many people, the office is wherever they want it to be. This change - brought about by advances in computers, telecommunications, information technology and software - affect large and small companies alike. The idea of a virtual office is becoming a reality and is changing the traditional corporate culture forever.
Traditionally work meant offices inside big buildings and often a long commute in order to get there. The form of future business organizations will be very different from the organizations of today. Kevin Maney, technology writer for USA Today reported in 1995 that many technology companies are pitching products for the coming era of the virtual office. "Companies such as AT&T, Lotus and Nextel see a time when people will no longer cluster in buildings to work. Instead they will use wireless phones, laptop computers, video phones and electronic software." (Virtual) I think it's safe to assume -- if you watch any television at all -- that you are well aware of AT&T's visions for the future. Interestingly enough these visions of the future are becoming more of a reality every day.
One vision that is actually a reality and is having the biggest effect on traditional business structures is the ability to work from any location that has a phone line, telecommuting. Telecommuting is becoming a popular way for employees of corporations to conduct business. Communication technology allows information to get exactly where it is needed. This technology is eliminating the need for work to be done in specific locations. (Birchall p12) Because computer applications are becoming standard workers no longer need to go to the office every day. The Gartner Group's Bob Hafner was interviewed for an article in the March 1, 1996 issue of ComputerWorld Canada. Hafner suggests that "by the year 2000 more than 30 million people in the United States and 55 million world-wide will work away from the traditional work-place" (telecommuting, computer). According to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, "approximately 50 to 60 percent of contemporary U.S. civilian jobs, or 73.3 million of the 129 million workforce, are information jobs. By 2002, this number is expected to increase to 85.5 million, or 59 percent of the workforce." (Telecommuting, Congressional) The federal Department of Transportation projects as many as 15 million telecommuters in 2002, about 10.5 percent of the workforce or 17.5 percent of information workers. This is a gain of 650 percent over the next 10 years, with half of the growth occurring in the last 3 years. (Telecommuting, Congressional).
Another change for future companies will be seen in hiring employees. When the right person for the job lives too far away to commute daily, telecommuting makes it possible to hire them. The insurance company, New York Life, was expanding it's volume of business and could not find qualified employees. By using communication technology they were able to hire English-speaking workforce in Ireland. (Birchell p24) Telecommuting is tearing down the walls of time and space. Companies can hire anyone in any country. Another Change in hiring that we are all becoming aware of is applying through electronic mail and posting your resume on the Internet.
As Today's companies move further in to the information age they are finding that people work do well and are actually more productive out side of the office. Companies are also finding that telecommuting and the virtual office are new innovative ways to get work done at a lower cost. According to most studies of telecommuting, the process works. The November, 1994 Training Magazine said, "Productivity studies consistently find that telecommuters outperform their peers at the traditional office by about 16 percent. According to consultant Charles Grantham, [president of the non-profit Institute for the Study of Distributed Work in Oakland, CA] companies save $2 for every $1 invested in remote equipment and extra phone lines. Office-space savings can reach $8,000 per worker, adds Chris Boyd, whose telecommuting consultancy (sic) is based in Connecticut and New York" (Telecommuting, Hecquet).
Critics of the virtual office say that there is one major drawback "There's absolutely no substitute for getting together in person to exchange ideas and exchange emotions and it's harder to do that when you're not in one place." (Virtual) I also see this as a logical draw back but, again trough technology this will be possible. Desktop videocoferencing will allow workers to call associates from home and descuss what ever they like. Although this technology does immediately exist it is rather slow but, I am confident in the communications industry and am shore they will produce quicker products in the near future. "Like all new technologies, desktop videoconferencing has had a slow start but as prices have dropped while functionality and quality have improved, these products seem to be positioned to take-off" (Emerging).
Even with efficient videocoferencing hardware the need for offices and a company home base will still exist. David Birchall and Laurence Lyons authors of "Creating tomorrow's Organization" explains an innovative solution, called "hoteling." (21) When employees need to check in for meetings they reregister with a "hoteling concierge." (21) The concierge allocates an office for the period required, programs a phone with the employees extension, and puts their name on the door. On the designated day the employee comes in plugs in to the network, collects papers from a personal locker and is up and running within minutes. Birchall also points out that many companies are encouraging employees to hold informal meetings in company cafeterias and restaurants (Birchall 21).
Can we look forward to a future with no offices what so ever, with everyone caring laptops and cellular phones? Probably not. We will most likely still have offices, but we probably wont travel to them every day, but rather, only when necessary. What is for shore is that we will spend much more time at home and the offices that do exist will look different and be used differently than those we have today. The big change is that businesses of all sizes will be able to use communication technologies to dramatically change corporate structures as we know them today while saving money and enjoying increased productivity.
Birchall, David., and Laurence Lyons. Creating Tomorrow's Organization. Great Britain: Pitman . publishing, 1995
"The Emerging Telework Tool." KLR Consulting Inc. Summer 1995. Online. Frontier net. 30 . . . Nov. 1997.
"Telecommuting." PS Enterprises. Online. Frontier net. 30 Nov. 1997.
---------. Computer World. Canada. March. 1996.
---------. Congressional office of Technology. Report: Saving energy In U.S. Transportation. July . 1994.
---------. Hecquet, Marc. Training: How telecommuting Transforms Work, 1994: 56.
"Virtual Office - Hype or Reality." KLR Consulting Inc. Summer 1995. Online. Frontier net. 30 . . Nov. 1997. Http://webcrawler.com/cgi-bimll