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Will the Traditional Concept of an 'Office' Be Dead Within 10 Years?

Officespace_stupididea Over at Seth's Blog, Seth Godin does his standard, masterful job of re-thinking big-picture issues with a post today entitled, "Goodbye to the Office." Godin looks briefly at the history of the "office" as a necessary destination at which work is performed, and concludes that the concept is probably on its last legs.

Godin writes that the idea of an office resulted from a need that developed in the 1800s for management to be right next to their companies' factories so that they could monitor what was going on. But what is the rationale for an office in 2010?

Godin identifies seven common answers to that question, and says that only one of them seems to have any merit today -- and even that one is probably short-lived:

   1. "That's where the machines are." Godin: The machine is now your laptop.
   2. "That's where the items I need to work on are." Godin: Again -- what you need is on your laptop.
   3. "The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity." Godin: This can be done digitally.
   4. "There are important meetings to go to." Godin: Meetings are not usually that important. What would happen if you didn't attend?
   5. "It's a source of energy." Godin: You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.
   6. "The people I collaborate with all day are there." Godin: How many people in your office do you truly collaborate with daily?

and...

   7. "I need someplace to go."

Godin acknowledges that there is still not a good answer for No. 7, and I can relate. With a house full of little kids and professional responsibilities that often include a need for a quiet environment without interruptions for a phone call or other interactions with third parties (e.g., no kids screaming and banging on doors, no dog barking),  a "place to go" can be a must. Once someone figures out how to offer No. 7, Godin says, "the office is dead."

Overall, I agree with Godin's argument: When you need to have a meeting, have a meeting. When you need to collaborate, collaborate. Otherwise, however, do the work wherever you like.

Do lawyers and legal professionals agree? Will the traditional law office be a "quaint antique" in 2020, as he suggests?

Posted by Bruce Carton on June 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

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