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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Information Age and innovative technologies that seem to come out every other day, have changed the office landscape. Escaping your desk like Houdini at 5 p.m. and hoping for the large corner office one day is now a thing of the past. Employees don’t want the corner office. They want a virtual office that affords them flexibility and freedom.
Instead of looking at the evolution from a chronological standpoint, let’s look at it from the everyday tasks that are performed. It might just give a sense of how far we’ve actually come.

Office Memos to Reply All Snafus

There was a time when communication was sent through snail mail. If you ask the youth of the world, email is actually too slow for them at times. But that is a story for another article.

Believe it or not, sending message by post did not end too long ago. The first email systems were created in the 1970’s but these were not immediately used commercially. Businesses did not adopt email systems until the 1980’s and 1990’s. There are some of you reading this article who were the first in your company to use email. You’re not old; you’re experienced.

The “office memorandum” on your desk started to disappear in exchange for company-wide emails. This also led to a sharp increase in panic attacks due to accidental “reply-alls” to emails. It is worth noting that the previous statement, while potentially true, may not be factually correct.


The smiling receptionists asking you if someone has a case of the Monday’s has slowly started to disappear along with the memorandums on your desk. Instead of keeping in-office receptionists, it has become increasingly common to outsource the work.

These friendly, virtual receptionists handle all of your companies calls. There is a good chance that your incoming callers don’t even realize the receptionist is not an employee of yours.

Call Centers/Customer Support

Love them or hate them, outsourced and virtual call centers are here to stay. Corporations love to outsource their customer support to businesses that provide that type of support at a fraction of the cost of in-office employees.

While customers may not always appreciate it, this transition to virtual substitutes for customer service reps saves the business a lot of money.

Conference Rooms to Conference Displays

Another major area where the office has evolved virtually is with conference rooms. Virtual conferencing, or videoconferencing, is another area that evolved not too long ago. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that videoconferencing became commercially available. Even then the quality was poor, the connection was weak, and the costs were high.

In the 1990’s, internet-protocol-based videoconferencing became available. This much improved version of videoconferencing permitted personal computers to connect to one another.

A decade later, in the 2000’s, videotelephony services such as Skype and iChat were introduced. These quickly become ways for smaller businesses, individual employees, and contract workers to connect using video displays.

Other services such as GoToMeeting, introduced in 2004, have also become widely popular amongst businesses. This type of virtual meeting allows users to share screens, change presenters, and much more.

While in-person conferences are not obsolete, they have certainly become less common especially when traveling can be avoided.

Office Space to Shared and Remote Office Space

Due to so many innovations with productivity tools and office necessities, office space itself has evolved. Many companies are ditching the high overhead costs of owning their own building or renting out office space.

It has become common for many companies to rent conference spaces or shared offices spaces. These shared spaces allow a smaller company to reap the benefits of an office without paying for a ridiculous lease on an actual building. They can downsize or expand in the shared space as needed without needing to search for a new location. This is the perfect setup for today’s startups and tech companies.

Gantt Charts to Team Project Management Tools

So Gantt charts are a very particular type of project management. Regardless, project managers and teams no longer have to rely on hand-written boards or papers to track project progress.

Virtual tools have made project management and team workflow ridiculously easy and intuitive. Certain types of companies can benefit from different types of management tools. For example, software development companies often prefer Trello for their dev projects. Basecamp and Asana both offer teams a collaborative environment to keep up to date with projects and deadlines without actually needing to meet face to face. These productivity tools are the solution for teams working remotely.

File Cabinets to the Cloud

You are just about as likely to find a filing cabinet in a retro store as you are in an office. The old school way of filing documents just isn’t conducive to offices anymore. First, all of the paper is waste and environmentally unfriendly.

Secondly, cloud storage has allowed companies to transfer all paper documents to safe, secure, and space-efficient cloud servers.

Floppy Disks and CD’s to Shared Drives

While we are on the subject of storage, we might as well mention floppy disks and CD’s. Both floppy disks and CD’s have gone about the wayside in terms of storing and transferring data. You might still be able to make a case for flash drives but overall, services like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive are by far better tools for an evolved office.

All three services take advantage of cloud storage but with the added functionality of sharing. Large files that can’t be sent through email can be delivered through a URL to a shared folder. This evolved way of transferring information complements an evolved office where each employee might be working from a different location.

About the Author.
Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.

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