While working as an IT strategist and architect, one of the authors was fortunate to spend several years leading a team of experts studying the future of office work. We came to the conclusion that, as time goes on, an increasing percentage of work in the technology age will be done by people in locations with a character very different than traditional office spaces. Coffee shops, automobiles, customer lobbies, and home offices will become common places to perform our tasks. For many of us, in fact, this is already the case. Enabling us to be effective will be a plethora of advanced technologies including
- Conferencing cell phones—that include high-resolution screens (perhaps projected on a nearby wall) to allow us to view and even deliver presentations
- Immersive virtual worlds—of a kind even more realistic than what is available today from video games such as Everquest® will allow us to interact with others very nearly as naturally as if we were physically with them
- Video and audio connectivity—to anyone, anywhere, will be available as easily as turning to talk to a colleague at work today
- Virtual offices—where team members can meet in fully equipped virtual spaces where project documents are easy to locate, schedules and deadlines are posted, and people can chat at virtual water coolers
All these technologies are possible today. It is just a matter of time before the number of virtual workers is large enough, and the current digital generation graduates from college, for developers to spend the time to develop them and for employers to invest in them and encourage and support their people to use them.