The office: reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. A few years ago, it was common to hear claims that home or remote working would soon become the norm. Many companies would choose to abandon the outdated concept of a shared, central workplace altogether, we were told.
It hasn't quite happened like that. If you're still spending many more hours in the office each week than you'd like to, the idea of home working may seem like an attractive but distant dream. Alternatively, you may fail to see how you could do your job effectively without being in the office every day.
The office is clearly still an important part of working life (and companies like Yahoo! have surprised observers by calling staff back into the office and effectively banning remote working). However, the role of the office is changing. It is no longer the only place in which we can work - mobile technology, cloud services and wireless networks have enabled us to work at home, on a train, in a café or coffee shop - pretty much anywhere with a device and a connection. Instead, the office is evolving into a hub - a secure, central space where individuals can gather to share ideas, plan work and discuss projects.
Earlier this year, BT hit the nail on the head in an article based on research by customer experience futurologist Dr Nicola Millard and London Business School. It noted that the most important function of the modern office is socialising and collaboration. "In effect, the office is one of the most powerful collaboration tools a business can have," it explained.
The inference behind Yahoo!'s decision to scrap its home working policy in 2013 was that face-to-face interaction is the best way to foster the collaborative culture that has characterised the success of technology giants like Google. At the same time, agile project management has emerged as an increasingly influential method of delivering work in IT, engineering and other industries. On the surface, the agile working methodology - particularly certain elements of the framework, such as scrum - would also seem to favour face-to-face interaction rather than remote working.
However, for many organisations, declaring an end to staff working from home is simply not possible. The office may be the most effective collaboration tool you have, but that doesn't mean you can use it all the time. Perhaps your business model is based on remote working, or you frequently collaborate with external stakeholders and partners based in different locations. In these situations, you need the right technology to ensure you can still apply the principles of agile project management.
Effectively, your organisation needs a tool that can accurately emulate the social, collaborative function performed by the office in the cloud. This way, the remote workers and external partners that do not have access to the office will not miss out on both the official meetings that take place there and the informal, 'water cooler' style interactions that help to develop ideas and boost progress.
At Kahootz, our cloud collaboration tool is designed to provide a highly secure, flexible and reliable environment - just like your office space. We don't tell you how to use it, so whether it's project management, file sharing, group discussion or consultation, you can shape our online workspaces to meet your needs.