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
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
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?