What better place to write about the anywhere workplace than… anywhere but the workplace? In order to find a nice distraction-free space in which to work on this week’s article, I’ve taken up residence at my local branch of the public library… quiet, power for the laptop (just in case), and free wifi. A very forward thinking library, they even let me bring in my coffee. As is the case for an increasing number of workers, it could just as easily be the coffee shop down the street, a home office, or sitting in a parking lot waiting to pick up the kids from school or practice.
But even in “the olden days,” people brought work home from the office, so what’s different now? Perhaps the more remarkable change is that, sitting here in the library, I’m still working with a colleague back at the office, discussing this article and seeing her edits appear in the last paragraph even as I write this one. I’m not just bringing my work with me, it’s effectively the whole workplace.
Now with a decent start on this article under my belt, I quickly pack up my gear and head to my next appointment. Meanwhile, my colleague’s comments and edits keep flowing in. Something she says triggers a new idea and I make another quick edit on my smartphone before heading into my meeting…
In most major urban centers in North America, the tools and infrastructure finally exist to make the anywhere workplace a practical reality. So how can you make it happen, and more importantly, is it the right thing for your company?
First you need the right tools for bridging the gap from the office to the anywhere workplace. Most people think hardware and software but there’s a critical third tool that can’t be overlooked: corporate policies. In Part 2 of this article, we will look at the software and infrastructure side of things, then corporate policies in Part 3, the elements that connect the anywhere workplace together. But let’s start with a quick rundown on the hardware side of things.
Finding the right hardware is becoming both a much simpler and much more complex challenge.
It’s much simpler in that the software will pretty much work with any hardware. Think of your hardware as your vehicle and your software as cargo bins for the stuff you really care about, your content. Used to be that you could only use custom bins that only fit certain kinds of content in certain vehicles. Nowadays, whether you’re driving the computer equivalent of a motorcycle (smartphone), compact (tablet), sedan (laptop), or pickup truck (workstation), the ‘cargo bins’ and ‘cargo’ can swap between ‘vehicles’ relatively easily.
It’s more complex in that you now have so many choices. While getting a computer at work once meant basically only one thing… a beige tower tied to a physical location and one set of software… now it’s laptops, mobile workstations, tablets, and towers. Mac or PC? Ford or Honda? Do you need a motorcycle or pickup truck?
In order to make the right choice in hardware, you’ll need to take a step back and look at what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. What’s your cargo? Where does it need to go? Then you can figure out the best way to get it there.