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The Evolution of the Office

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Today, we have a guest post from Alan Cairns. Alan writes on a number of subjects including virtual receptionists and telephone answering services.

The idea of what makes a good working environment is constantly changing, so it’s no surprise that different businesses choose to operate in very different ways. Here are various office setups and their implications for companies.

Open plan office

One of the most significant changes for workspaces in recent years has been the move to open plan offices, designed to encourage communication and teamwork, particularly between creative teams. It’s thought that allowing workers to better see and hear each other fosters a more free and collaborative environment.

Serviced office

Serviced offices have a reputation of being rather basic, temporary workspaces for freelancers and small businesses to use for short periods of time. We are now seeing a new type of serviced office emerge, particularly in international business centers such as London, providing an attractive and luxurious alternative to traditional offices.

New high-end serviced officers are popular with small businesses and startups, since they offer central business locations without expensive leases associated with traditional office space. The offices usually offer flexible running contracts, with the option to easily expand into additional space or retract as necessary. Offering social environments such as bars and cafés to work in, these serviced offices are proving very popular with small businesses. The great thing is that these businesses don’t have to concern themselves with the setup and cost of electricity, heat, water, Internet and telephone, as well as general office maintenance and repair. The offices are usually provided fully furnished, and businesses can also gain access to luxurious meetings rooms and conference rooms.

Anywhere office

As workers in London find their commute becoming increasingly chaotic, time-consuming and expensive thanks to a failing rail network and exorbitant price rises, more and more of them are looking for flexible or remote roles where they can work from home, the train or a coffee shop. Britons work some of the longest hours in Europe, with some people working up to 45 hours per week, so it’s no surprise that an increasing number of them are looking for a more pleasant workshifting lifestyle.

While you might expect businesses to be unwilling to allow this sort of freedom to employees, many now acknowledge that a 2-hour commute is not the best way to start the day. A lot of people do their best work in the morning, and allowing them to do so from home can boost productivity and ultimately profits. Thanks to advances in technology, it’s very easy for homeworkers to communicate and share data with the office or other remote workers.

Obviously, broadband penetration has played a key role in helping homeworkers stay connected, and developments in mobile technology have meant that remote workers are increasingly contactable. With technologies like remote access software and virtual private networks (VPN), remote workers can even log in to their work computers and company intranets from home. It means that everyone is looking at the same information, regardless of whether they are working in the office, from home, a coffee shop or the beach.

Virtual office

It’s not just individuals who are dropping the idea of having a stable office. Many of today’s startups are operated by individuals who aren’t interested in renting a physical space, preferring to work remotely from home, a coffee shop, the train and other remote locations while on the move. Renting, running and maintaining an office is a business cost, one that many startup owners think they can do without.

Virtual offices are an economical solution, providing businesses with a telephone number, a prestigious address as well as conference rooms and other facilities for rent when they are needed. Many smaller businesses also invest in virtual offices with a telephone answering service. These outsourced services can be used when necessary and can help with a variety of business administration tasks including taking messages, forwarding calls, providing information for customers, taking orders, organizing records and more. Virtual offices are ideal for those who are low on cash but need a way to ensure their customers are properly serviced.


Photo credit: wili_hybrid

  • Joel Bouckaert

    Great article, Alan. In the midst of a startup, I am definitely a fan of the Serviced Office with business lounge and other facility benefits, worldwide (many companies provide such services). There is only so much that you can do from a Starbucks, or while transitting an airport, and having somewhere familiar to ‘hang your hat’ when you visit an offsite location is important – whether it be for grindstone work or hosting client meetings. Though I do think that you need to assess your options as your grow (i.e. a permanent HQ – Open Plan is a great option in so many industries), having the flexibility of a worldwide, walk-in office approach in the early days can be of great benefit.

  • http://www.servicedofficespaces.net/ liza

    I’m a big fan of serviced offices and would choose them every time.