Video killed the radio star. Why online databases mean the end of traditional office space.


We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of an enduring icon of our civilization. He brought joy and wonder, but also suffering and frustration to us all. And although we can hardly remember a time when he did not impose on our daily lives, we must now let him go and look to the future (and to online databases). Join me now in bidding a final farewell to the obtuse, the infuriating, the florescent; Traditional Office Space.

I’m serious you guys, let it go!

Cloud computing, online databases and remote work arrangements are growing every year and the benefits of working remotely significantly outweighing those of cubicle life. Between the easily accessible data and information and the growing culture of mobility, it’s only a matter of time before office buildings large and small are converted into lofts—or forests if we’re smart.

According to the Mitel’s paper, Work 3.0: The next generation model for smarter business’, there is significant evidence that the ‘Social Media Generation’ will not stand for bad lighting, water coolers and the 9-to-5 grind. In fact, their study shows that 87% of young people and those who will soon be workers will aim to break free of conventional office environments and find new mediums of working (presumably using online databases in the cloud).

Teenage revolution

They may be Beliebers now but this generation will drive revolutionary creation of remote and pop-up offices sufficiently staffed and teched-out with customized online databases and apps, readily available to complete their work and collaborate with others. Data also suggests this generation is primed for collaboration and knowledge sharing like no other before it and companies who get with the program stand to gain from promoting online teamwork among remote employees. This idea is further supported by the Work 3.0 paper which proposes the notion of the ‘human cloud’. An online network formed through the intersection of bring-your-own-device trends, remote workforces and communications consolidated in online databases, gives workers access to all information, in all mediums, anytime. Still want to hang on to all that expensive office space? Ok, but according to Computer Weekly, 45% of almost all office space is unused at any one time. Yikes!

And this brings us to another death

The death of the personal computer, that is. As tablets and smart devices continue to develop they will overtake the traditional computer and even the laptop in due time. This of course means we’ll all need glasses by our 25th birthday, but by god we will wear them if it means working from anywhere. Gartner has even gone so far as to say “the ‘personal cloud’ will replace the personal computer as the centre of users’ digital lives by 2014.” When this happens, workers will be able access their work stored in online databases in the cloud at a moment’s notice from any device. This of course will make going into an office seem like a silly errand for damaged people.

Traditional offices are reaching their ‘best before’ date

In reality, most of us are still dragging ourselves in to work. But businesses that want to survive will eventually be forced to change. In order to recruit and retain the best of the best in the next five, 10, even 20 years, big business will be forced to accept that younger workers are seeking flexible hours, virtual work arrangements, cloud-based operations and communication. Old office incentives like company credit cards and corner offices will become meaningless and fail to attract the best and brightest. Companies who offer flexibility, support, and growth in a non-office environment are the ones who will survive.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon, the offices will dim, the computers will shut down and the world will be run by the teenagers who hang around outside the convenience store near your house.