I don’t think many people will lament the demise of the traditional office. Few will miss the endless hours chained to a desk, where the only respite is a chat by the water cooler or a crafty cigarette.
The Internet has changed all that. Yes, offices still exist, but modern technology is making us more mobile, more agile and more global.
And it’s not just emails, websites and Skype that are changing the way we work. The Internet of Things is fast becoming hardwired into our everyday lives, and that includes our workday.
The Internet of Things basically refers to the way different devices are interconnected by the web. So you can do clever stuff like switch on your cooker when you’re still on the train home, or check on your CCTV even if you’re far away.
Business Insider estimates that by 2019, the Internet of Things will be the largest device market in the world; more than double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car, and the wearable market combined.
We’re already being empowered by increased business intelligence and product connectivity.
So how will the Internet of Things affect our ability to do business internationally?
It will no doubt make things much simpler and more convenient. In fact, the Internet of Things could make our workspace completely mobile if we want it to be.
Regus – the global office company – envisions commuters of the future working in self-driving cars, where front seats can swivel around to create a four-person meeting space. Should you wish, you can even conference call with your clients or colleagues on the other side of the world.
Will there really be a need for an office in the future?
Well, yes, in so far as we will still need to meet with actual human beings once in a while. Conferencing platforms such as Skype may well be increasingly acceptable to global and domestic businesses, but still lack the sense of real connection and intuition that comes with a face-to-face.
Nonetheless, our increased connectivity to each other and to big data, new technology and a whole network of information is already having profound implications on our ability to export. Which is why more people are doing it.
In the old days – when people had to spend a lot of money and time jumping on planes to connect with international clients – few businesses had the resources, let alone the confidence to export overseas.
But with the convenience and ease that comes with the Internet of Things, export is becoming less daunting. We are not even talking about the future here. It’s already happening.
Whether we are a global or a domestic business, here are just some of the things you can do now, which will inevitably become commonplace in years to come:
- Say you have a 6 a.m. conference call with colleagues abroad that is cancelled overnight. Your corporate email would communicate with your alarm clock to allow you sleep in, and reschedule the meeting for you.
- En route to the meeting, your vehicle detects an accident or traffic jam that will make you late, so it will automatically alert the meeting attendees of your new ETA.
- When you arrive at the office, your smartphone or device serves as your corporate badge, allowing access to a building with restrictions based on your role in the company.
- In the meeting, your colleague abroad has sent a vital package. In-built sensors track the package, so that you know exactly where it is and when to expect delivery.
It’s inevitable that the notion of working anywhere at anytime will become increasingly the norm.
And when you can communicate with someone in Japan as easily as your next-door neighbour – language issues aside – then the world is indeed a much smaller place.
But all the more exciting and more welcome for that.
In association with Routes & Branches