The sun is shining and the birds are singing here in the Bay Area; in other climes, they aren’t. In recent years, I’m pleased to report, I’ve been spared having to deal with weather challenges in getting to the office. That’s in part because snow, sleet and hail aren’t a normal part of our weather here, but also in part because our physical office is a less important part of our operations than has ever been the case, so I can more often do my work from home.
The role of offices and physical proximity has been on my mind as we contemplate the possibility of relocating our home base. But it also comes up increasingly often in our research – into the customer experience as electronic commerce channels multiply, into workforce performance as employees increasingly work other than from a central office, into the growing migration of enterprise software deployment from a buy-and-install model to one based on rental via – forgive me – “the cloud.”
As a business professional, I value the opportunity to walk into the next office to try out an idea or chat face-to-face about a client. And it’s nice to be able to go out to lunch with colleagues and mix business and casual conversation. As a consumer, I value the buying experience when it involves not a commodity but something the particular qualities of which matter to me – the feel of a keyboard, the fit of a shirt, the taste of an apple.
But it’s clear the mix that today works for me – and I expect for an increasing number of you – has more non-physical interactions in it than ever was the case before. Certainly that’s what our research is finding.
And the implications of that for whether to move our office? Well, on those days when I do pick up my brief case and make the trip, I want there to be other colleagues there as well. And I want that trip from home to office to be an easy one, since I have as an alternative not going.
Oh, yes: And the options for lunch need to be pretty damn good.
All of which means the infrastructure of an effectively competing business today needs to be robust, and substantially Web-based, and far more flexible than ever before.
Let me know your thoughts or come and collaborate with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Alan Kay – VP Research Management