For a long time physical offices have played a key role in organizations as centres of communication for internal and external purposes. With the advent of various communication vessels, offices are being dealt a death knell with serious operational consequences.
Here are some of the ways in which the oncoming no-office revolution will sweep away organizations.
Receptions without Inquirers: Receptions have enjoyed unrivaled monopoly as the sources of information for customers and others who are interested in the goods and services or even management/staff of an organization. Such information is now available on the organization’s website which even contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
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For any clarifications, the inquirer can call a given mobile number which may be answered from a call centre or the comfort of an employee working from home. Indeed, the physical location of delivering certain services will soon be rendered useless with organizations mulling over alternative uses of available office space.
Payments without Cash Offices: The Cash Office is traditionally known for receiving cash/cheques and making payments using the same means. Online cash receipts and payments platforms; mobile phones money transfer and intra-bank transfers will soon outdo its services delivery. Organizations receive and make payments for goods sold/received or services offered/received through electronic transfers. The turning of tables for business transactions which can be undertaken from other locations is prompting organizations to re-think about cash offices.
Forward looking organizations have gone ahead to outsource not only their payrolls but also processing of payments using strong internal control and authorization systems. The future of finance offices risk displacement as most of their services are targeted for outsourcing.
Marketing without the Office: Fully-fledged marketing and sales offices may crumble as online advertising and promotions replaces the sales teams on the ground. Google and other platforms have made it easy for organizations to reach their existing and potential clients with outstanding speed. Companies that want to either launch new products/services or maintain customer loyalty are able to do so on the internet. Sales teams that used to undertake door to door marketing are fast being replaced making their office space vacant.
Organizations should be prepared to develop policies for managing employees who would be working from either home or a popular café in town
Meetings Without Board Rooms: Conference video calling has made it possible for people in different locations to hold meetings without physical presence in a board room. Organizations that have subsidiaries in various countries are able to discuss business agenda without the common face-to-face meetings. Indeed, board rooms in most organizations are not likely to be fully utilized.
Interview Without Physical Presence: Days are gone when candidates for interviews were required to appear in person at the interview room for the panel to decide whether or not they are suitable for a particular position. Progressive organizations arrange for conference video calling to conduct interviews and later on select the qualified candidates. This approach may be convenient and cost effective to both the potential employer and the prospective employee. No office space would be required for interviews since they can be conducted from various locations.
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Outside the Office Work: Nowadays employees can assess office and other working documents from whatever location using the laptop or hand-held devices such as mobile phones. Work performance for some employees is not based on their presence in the office so long as they deliver the outputs expected such as written reports.
Faced with possible elimination of physical offices, organizations should be prepared to develop policies for managing employees who would be working from either home or a popular café in town. With the raging winds of change on working structures, management should periodically review their office space requirements.
Samson Osero is a Human Resource Development Consultant. Email: [email protected]