The Modern Office: Dramatically Changing the Way We Work

Your grandfather’s office space resembled that of most working Americans, but today’s office and workday look much different. The modern office appears and functions differently and continues to evolve with technology.

Nomad office in Kuala Lumpur

For example, it would take days for inter-office communication to come to fruition, but today, with emails composed and sent in seconds, communication (with anyone in the world) moves much quicker. What else influences the modern workday and drives the dramatic change?

The Virtual Office

It’s surprising to businesspeople of earlier eras to realize that some of today’s entrepreneurs have businesses but no office buildings, and in some cases their employees live on separate continents. The virtual office, making it possible for a number of people from all corners of the earth to share files and communicate in real time, resembles the function of a traditional business. Why do you have to live in the same state as your boss or even leave your house to fulfill the duties of your job? Why adopt the added of an office to rent? The virtual office transcends the physical doors and walls of traditional businesses.

Where’s the Paper?

What worker of a former era could envision a workday without paper? Whether maintaining databases or uploading digital copies, today’s offices are less dependent on paper. It saves on physical costs as more businesses disregard paper to be green. Moreover, digital files make it easy to share pieces of paper in seconds with associates anywhere in the world; processes run faster and smoother. In today’s world, a single computer can replace a room once filled with papers and filing cabinets.

Face-to-Face Meetings?

While a number of technological advancements fuel business pursuits, some fundamentals stay the same. For example, business partnerships warrant face-to-face communication. You don’t want to place the livelihood of your business in the hands of a partner you’ve never seen!

However, tools such as Skype and Gmail allow remote, face-to-face communication. Best of all, these business tools are free, so there are no extra costs or inconveniences associated. Often, meetings are necessary but a huge obstacle for partners and cohorts in different locales. Face-to-face meetings with multiple parties are a possibility with video tools and software.

Coworking space in Madrid

Stand Up or Sit Outside

In addition to a changed workplace and difference in employee communication, the physical workspace, often involving a computer, inspires more possibilities and redefines the work area. For example, a number of people who are tired of sitting down purchase standing desks. Moreover, laptops and a trove of Internet ready devices make it easy to perform duties outside, at a café, at home, or from a park bench. Today’s bosses are less concerned about where an employee does the work and more focused on their ability to self regulate and exhibit self discipline.

Working 9 to 5?

Working ‘9 to 5’ was so common in the late 20th century that it dictated songs, sitcoms, and the timeframe of schooldays. However, today’s workers may not pledge allegiance to such hours. Due to the convenience of digital tools and a virtual workplace, a business may stay open around the clock due to employees working in multiple time zones, continents, and self-prescribed shifts. Today’s workers may perform duties in the morning from home, collect children from school, make dinner, and then head to the library to finish off their workdays. Today’s owners are more concerned about how much work is done rather than what hours are worked.

Home office

Entrepreneurs and the Home Office

Today’s tools of communication and business make it possible to run a company from your bedroom or home office. Actually, many of the expenses, including mortgage or rent, can be deducted from income taxes, and transforming a small storage shed, second bedroom, or basement to a home office is something many entrepreneurs, who make a primary or second income from the comfort of their own property, choose to do.

Save on Suits and Dresses

In the 1950s and 60s, it would be odd to spot a businessperson out of a suit or formal dress. While the formalwear impressed consumers and business partners, the need posed an added cost to workers. Yet, today’s workplaces, adopting a business casual dress code, make it less expensive to ‘look the part’ of a busy and successful worker. Humorously, a number of businesspeople using Skype often joke about dressing professional from the waist up, donning pajama bottoms during normal ‘working’ hours.

It’s business as usual for those who want to be successful, yet today’s workplace and workforce look drastically different. Virtual, paperless, and flextime offices proliferate in number as more entrepreneurs adopt change in the 21st century.

Photo credits: Vernon Chan,, Mackenzie Kosut / Flickr


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