The digital era has completely changed the way we interact with one another. For many of us, some of our closest friends are the people we rarely see but communicate with on a daily basis via social media.
Since communication and relationship building are no longer limited to our geographical location, it should come as no surprise that technology is also changing the way the workspace operates. Gone are the days when you must live where you work. In fact, many businesses are now opting to forgo physical workspaces. And this is benefiting both the employer and the employee.
Finding the Right Person for the Job
For most of human history, securing a good job often meant being willing to relocate to wherever your employer was based. Or, if relocation was inconvenient, it meant that qualified job candidates were passing up jobs they are well-suited for in order to take a lesser position closer to home.
For employers looking for ideal candidates for job openings, location also presents a huge problem. If you are restricting your search only to those who already live in proximity to your business, or are willing to relocate, you often won’t be hiring the best of the best. This presents a huge problem when it comes to specialization.
If there is a highly qualified candidate for a job but who is not in the area, employers are forced to hire someone who may be less than ideal. Likewise, those employees who have a lot to contribute to an organization may miss out on this opportunity and be forced to take a job that they are overqualified for somewhere else.
Without specialization, companies cannot run at optimal capacity and the division of labor cannot operate sufficiently. But technology is changing this.
Since the internet now allows us to connect with anyone, anywhere, it has given employees the freedom to work remotely. Platforms like Slack and Skype allow free-flowing communication without having to be in the same physical space. This allows business to continue as usual, without anyone having to ever be at the same place, at the same time. Of course, this type of work environment doesn’t apply to all sectors. But for companies where this type of model is possible, it also helps reduce the costs associated with physical locations.
No More Brick and Mortar
More so than ever, companies are choosing to forgo physical spaces. Halo Top ice cream, for example, has been a market phenomenon, breaking records and selling out of stores faster than any other brand of its kind. But many might be shocked to know that Halo Top has no physical office space. Instead, employees work remote from wherever they are located. On occasion, they may come together when it is needed. But forgoing a physical office space has not only saved money, it has allowed employees the freedom to work from wherever they choose.
Likewise, Parse.ly, an analytics platform that offers tools for monitoring website traffic, also maintains no permanent office. Its employees use Slack as a means of communication and come together when necessary, much like Halo Top. But these two companies are far from the only ones. The website INC lists 125 additional companies without permanent office structures.
In addition to giving employees more freedom in their work, this also helps companies avoid a series of government regulations. When a physical space is acquired, there are a plethora of hoops that must be jumped through in order for that physical office space to legally exist. This is why you will see signage in many office breakrooms displaying the proper permits, licensing, OSHA certifications, and so forth. All these permits, inspections, and certifications cost money. But by foregoing physical space, you also avoid the circus of government regulations that take money away from business owners.
Some worry that the lack of physical office space may present the opportunity for employees to slack off, but the results indicate the opposite. When employees are allowed to work remotely, they are more inclined to get their work done while maintaining a higher quality of life. No longer restricted to a 9-5 workday, employees also enjoy more flexibility.
By allowing employers to hire the best of the best, and employees to go where their skills are most appreciated, we are able to chart our own courses more so than at any other point in history. This has fostered an environment where the road to serfdom is abandoned in favor of the road to individualism.