CLOSE-UP PERSPECTIVE: Homeworking will free us all to have a better office life

Until now, whenever anyone has looked at the future of the office, the one thing that has always been crystal clear is that no-one knows what that thing is. So although we have more and better ways of communicating, we have all blundered on as usual, struggling to work on unreliable, crowded trains and in traffic jams and slaving in roasting offices for rude and unpleasant bosses.

Until now, whenever anyone has looked at the future of the office,

the one thing that has always been crystal clear is that no-one knows

what that thing is. So although we have more and better ways of

communicating, we have all blundered on as usual, struggling to work on

unreliable, crowded trains and in traffic jams and slaving in roasting

offices for rude and unpleasant bosses.



A new piece of research by Delaney Fletcher Bozell has taken up the

challenge, reporting on how technology has made working from home, or

simply working away from the traditional office environment, a more

viable option.



More people working from home means that offices will be less formal,

with opportunities for companies such as the US giant, Kinko’s, which

outsources office facilities. Instead of hopping on a plane, staff can

’meet’ using the facilities at Kinko’s or pay it a 2am visit with an

important document to be finished by the beginning of the business

day.



If homeworking does take off, it follows that offices will become more

like home and home will become more like the office. Offices will get

more cosy with cafes, soft furnishings, warm colours and chocolate

Hob-Nob dispensers. Homes will be taken up by faxes, modems, computers

and desks. People will be desperate to get to work where they can sink

into a sofa, get some decent food and generally be treated like human

beings. Maybe even workaholic agencies such as Leagas Delaney will only

work all night every other night.



There’s a serious question too. Will there be more opportunities for

advertising to appeal to consumers through more hours in the day and how

will advertising adapt to reflect the work patterns of the future?



On media, Bozell reckons two things will be important. Thanks to changes

in commuter patterns, there will be smaller volumes of traffic for

outdoor media. And it will be even harder to build ABC1 coverage on TV

because the audience will be more fragmented. A shift to lunch-time

viewing looks likely.



It’s also likely that the traditional division between

business-to-business and consumer advertising will blur, leading - at

last - to more realistic advertising featuring neither sharp suits nor

elegant boardrooms. More ads, in other words, like AT&T’s

documentary-style campaign of a couple of years ago, which exhorted

people to use AT&T ’because life’s too short’ and featured plausible

characters talking about their lives to an off-screen interviewer.



Whether any of this comes true or not, there’s one thing that can be

guaranteed. When we’re all working from home, no-one will be able to use

that old ’in a meeting’ ruse. Would you, after all, volunteer to have

your boss and a few colleagues in your spare room?



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