Javier García Iza
IOS Offices
Expert Contributor

Flex Offices: Remote and Asynchronous Work

By Javier García Iza | Tue, 08/04/2020 - 09:20

With the technological advancements of the past decades, today, most office work can be done remotely and asynchronously.

The pandemic contingency has accelerated the process of adapting “new” technologies or ways of collaborating. The “new normality” is that people spend part of their time working remotely, which means working from another city, a café, your home or even during your vacation or downtime. In particular, because part of the workforce no longer needs to work in person from 9-5 as had been done for more than a century, at least in corporate offices.

However, the essential part of teamwork will continue to be far more efficient if done in person. Working in-person as a team not only requires less time, but generates better results, unlike remote work. When people gather under the same roof, in addition to official agenda items, parallel fundamental issues are touched on in the corridor or in casual meetings and this significantly enhances collaboration. That casual, social human touch can never be replaced by telecommunications. These human connections are the engine of true collaboration, resulting in better team and company performance and productivity.

Knowing and taking into account the above, business leaders are clear that some tasks can be carried out efficiently and productively at a distance, so we will see more and more flexibility in the ways of collaborating.

Working remotely does not mean, exclusively,  working from home.  Home office will be viable for multiple tasks, as long as there is a suitable place to work; for example, a space that has a comfortable chair, lighting, the ideal temperature, the absence of noise and interruptions and good connectivity.

For years now in corporations, we have seen that workstations are idle for long periods of time, in some cases more than 50 percent of the work shift. What does this mean? If people are not at their workplace, where are they? What is the future of idle space? As was already being done, the trend to make the use of space more efficient continues unabated. In recent months, we have devised and transformed our spaces to adapt to this new normal. We will see more shared areas, thus increasing the use of space: the lower the coincidence factor, the greater the number of users per workstation.

Email, popularized in the 1990s, was a big step toward asynchronous collaboration. It accelerated remote collaboration and efficiency among teams. Because it was all done in writing, it created responsible communication between remote teams.

In contrast, and with very slow adaptation, videoconferencing was conceptualized in 1870 and has existed since 1920, developed by AT&T. Later, there were attempts to popularize it: PictureTel was founded in 1984, Polycom in 1990, Skype and LifeSize in 2003 and Zoom in 2011, to name a few. But only in these last few months has it actually become popular. As an essential part of collaboration at a distance, we already see it as habitual.

Since our foundation and in alliance with LifeSize, at IOS OFFICES we see the use of video conferences as normal. We have high definition video rooms with double screens in all our centers. We not only see it as a value offer for our members, but as a company of 250 collaborators in 40 different work centers, we need it to be able to operate the company and collaborate as a team. For us, remote work is not something new as a consequence of the current contingency.

The adaptation of videoconferencing and remote work will be part of the routine of many companies, whether for internal, weekly and monthly meetings, or receiving suppliers or clients from other cities. We will also be more sensitive and aware of the professionalism of the people with whom we interact. A video conference will not be as productive if it is done informally in the kitchen, with noise or background interruptions, as in a professional place or a meeting room and meticulously adapted to have an efficient meeting.

In conclusion, some companies will continue to operate traditionally and others will quickly adapt to flexible collaboration, depending on their company culture and the nature of their productive activities. The better and more formal the flexible collaboration, the greater the adaptation. Allies such as IOS OFFICES, which has been working remotely for more than 10 years and where we have the ideal tools that allow asynchronous and flexible work for each company, are a solution to adapt to the "new normal" of work. 

Photo by:   Javier García Iza