Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Emergence of Virtual Workspace

India, just like other parts of the world, is witness to a change in the way employees work. Mobility is becoming important and physical presence in office is no longer a measure of productivity. The advent of smartphone technology, PDAs and portable pagers has decreased the requirement of work to be done sitting at one place. This has given employees more flexibility and freedom to choose the environment they want to work on, while workplaces have started moving to the clouds.

Smart devices these days have a host of applications that facilitate in-device processing, creation and review of work related documents. Indeed, mobile data has now become faster than most broadband offerings. Phones serve the same purpose as the bulkier, less portable laptops and the new line of products being launched is aiming to please the younger markets who are tech-savvy and much active in terms of their networking capabilities solely due to the fact that they practically live their lives online.

As a result, many companies are shifting to workplaces situated online. These virtual workplaces have many advantages over traditional workplaces, the most prominent being the non-requirement of an employee’s physical presence. IT support systems have to support a wider array of devices, varied both in hardware and software specifications.

Take the case of a company, Buffer, which went completely online after it realized most of its employees opted to work remotely than stay in office. Ever since it has noticed quite a few changes.
  • The employees are happier as they get to be in an environment of their choosing. 
  • Shuttering the office saved the company over $7,000 every month. 
  • They were able to provide round the clock tech support services as their employees live in different time zones, eliminating the need to worry about shifts. 
  • Team meetings could be scheduled easily without the possibility of logistical problems. 

Working online also had its own share of demerits, namely

  • The energy that comes from physically present team members was found wanting often. 
  • The office atmosphere tended to get to the employees, making them lax. 
  • For people who did not live with their family, the job seemed lonely. 
  • It was difficult to build social relationships. 

The employees nevertheless persisted with the online workplace as the benefits far outweighed the demerits, not to mention the obvious economical advantages this offered to the company. Not having a physical office meant the company saved on rent for the office and peripherals needed to keep it running. Moreover, time complexities also disappeared as important team events like meetings and brainstorming sessions could be started without the cause of employees being late due to troubles while commuting to work.

One of the biggest advantages virtual workplaces have to offer is the flexibility and the freedom to choose one’s own work hours and the savings made on salaries by employees. Automattic, the parent company for Wordpress, gives out it's employees 250$ for renting a co-working space. The employees can choose when they want to work, for how long and where. 

The lack of an informal workplace and regular working hours takes some getting used to, but once it's set in stone, employees discover their productivity increases manifold, as compared to a stock office they would be cooped in day in and day out, as is the case with a physical workplace.

- Aditya Bhargava
Musician, writer and otaku, with a professional interest in gaming

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