Future of work: the office is in the cloud

From a technical point of view, the future of work has long been here, writes GDI researcher Stefan Breit in an article. Due to the corona pandemic, the mind-shift is now following. Remote is becoming the standard, on-site the exception. An information graphic shows how and where we will work in the future.

Those who do brainwork have been working in the cloud for many years. Presence is, technically speaking, no longer necessary. We often commute and work only in the office because of our colleagues, because of the change of wallpaper to our own home, because of the coffee machine, but above all because we have gotten used to it -- out of pure nostalgia. The classic office is obsolete when you can work anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. It is a skeuomorphism, a now functionless ornament that is based on the design of days gone by.

In Europe, just over half of all employees work on a computer. In Switzerland, this proportion is likely to be even higher due to the pronounced service society. For many employees, working has changed fundamentally in recent weeks. They are  no longer allowed to go to the office, but have to work from home for a longer time period. The home has thus become a "castle" again, where people live, work and meet other people in their free time - at a distance or virtually, of course.

The tech shift has already happened, now the mental shift is following

Technically speaking, the future of work has been here for a long time. Currently, due to corona and the call to work from home, social change is following – the tech shift has already happened, now the mental shift is following.

Remote is becoming the standard

The development towards the delocalisation of office work is accelerating because we are now realising that decentralised working offers opportunities for employers and employees, such as more flexibility and efficiency. Remote is becoming the standard, on-site the exception. It won't work perfectly and equally well for everyone from the start, but that won't stop the slow decline of office buildings. It's like consumption: online shopping leads to a decline in shops, home office leads to a decline in offices. The space that becomes free can be used for other functions.

For those who work at a computer and not behind a plexiglass screen at a supermarket checkout, the office is now always in the cloud. This means we must move away from the concept of the office as a fixed physical place.

This opens up new forms of work, which can be classified on a spectrum of Alone -- Together. Thus, the office of the future has many faces.

A GDI infographics shows where we will work in the future:

Decentralised work future work

GDI researcher also give presentations on the future of work online