Sponsored Post – There Are No Cubicles

“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson 2013-07-25 10.48.04

The following is a sponsored post for Cloud Powered Work. All the ideas are mine. They just want you to think about this space a little bit. Are you?

I just finished up a Skype call with someone for his book project. Before that, I had a quick call on my cell phone while running an errand. I’m writing this post on my nifty Dell XPS10, and will upload it to the web by tethering to my iPhone. I’m working. If you saw me, if you looked over at any point in my day or saw me sitting on the park bench by the river, you’d wonder what kind of role I had. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t think I was running a publishing and media company from here. At best, you’d guess I was an author (and I am).

The “Where” of Work Has Changed

I live in a former factory building. It used to produce upholstery for horse-drawn carriages before cars. Now it houses a bunch of creative people with jobs in far off places. I believe 97% of us (completely made up percentage, but probably not far off) work in a different town than where we live. Work isn’t here. It’s where our efforts go. (tweetable)

I used to work for a wireless telecom company. Near the end, they let me work remotely. Why not? I had remote access. I could do everything I would do at my cube somewhere else. And I could do it with fewer interruptions. Sure, some bosses were worried that I was milking the system, but only because they hadn’t figured out how to measure on production instead of attendance. Is that not the silliest thing, if you think about it? “I see you, so therefore, I will count you as ‘working.’”

The where of work has changed, is changing.

The Cloud Isn’t a What-If Any More

There are precious few examples of companies that have a legitimate reason not to use the cloud to power their not-in-person work. I had a phone call with a guy from India seeking to build partnerships in the US, UK, and Australia. He and I worked on Skype for a while, will share documents via the Cloud, and will likely never shake hands. And that’s how it rolls.

Prepare for No Cubes

Why sit around waiting for that time, business leaders? Why say “we need everyone where I can see them” when that’s the least effective management method ever invented? Why keep people tethered to office space and overhead when you can create a very responsive workforce situated where the best talent can be found, instead of simply based on a postal code?

Yes, some roles work better in clustered configurations. But all? Is that the right thinking?

There are no cubicles, at least from where I’m sitting.

The previous was sponsored by Cloud Powered Work, but the opinions are mine. Only mine. Unless they’re also yours.

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  • http://www.toddejones.net/ tejones

    So many job postings require someone to move. . . not anymore, I work from Arkansas, and can work with anyone, anywhere!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That’s what I LOVE to hear! Go you! I’ve only been to Little Rock, but you’ve got a pretty cool state. : )

      • http://www.toddejones.net/ tejones

        Thanks Chris! If you only knew the talented folks we have here. We have several startups in the past few years and the ARK Challenge is a big help in accelerating many of those. I am proud of my home state. Come to Conway sometime.

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    I work out of a collaborative workspace and I LOVE it. In fact, yesterday I went to visit GOOD HQ in Los Angeles and I was surprised that they were an open office too. The colors of the walls were bright and playful. Not a single barrier separated the desks. Hell, they didn’t even have to be there. They could work remotely if they wanted to.

    I hope I never have to settle for a cubicle because I’ve already had too much of a taste of freedom.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Sounds really great, Vincent. Nice to visit the mother ship from time to time. : )

  • http://rickwolff.com Rick Wolff

    I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m WAY, WAY more productive in a cubicle, supervised, than I am at home alone.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Definitely not for everyone.

  • tishpiper

    I like working remotely except for one thing … it sometimes gets lonely out there. Coming into the office/hive is a good thing every once in a while.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I can get that from visiting coffee shops and the like. No?

      • tishpiper

        Yes and no. It’s about the connection with people while doing the work. Coffee shops banish the desert island syndrome but a hey and a nod to the barista isn’t enough human interaction. Maybe a traveling water cooler for people to congregate and ask about the weekend. ; )

    • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

      Like Chris said, coffee shops! I rotate between my home, a collaborative workspace, and a coffee shop. I feel like I get the most done at the coffee shop because the atmosphere is just so… Different.

  • David Shaw

    Great post Chris, and right up my street. This is what I do for a living I’m a workspace technology specialist. I personally believe there are different places to work from and it’s not either or. There are times were collaboration is needed and other times where concentration is needed. It’s having the right technology enabled and the right kind of office space and culture to enable you to work from wherever is best for you for that particular task and or circumstance. That maybe a home the office or a third space. They are all right. Offices do however need to provide for both collaborative and concentration spaces and everyone owning a desk is no longer necessary.

  • Steven Buehler

    Looks like Windows 8 is working pretty well for you? I’ve been running it on my Mac with Parallels for a while now.

  • http://www.heromt.com/ Julie

    I used to work in a cubicle for a big company. Now I work for myself from home. Ironically when I first quit my “job,” I was scared to give up the security. In actuality I now have more security, freedom, and income than before.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said companies need to “measure on production instead of attendance.” Thanks for this insight. This statement will help me with a current client.

  • Tisha White

    This piece really spoke to me:

    Sure, some bosses were worried that I was milking the system, but only because they hadn’t figured out how to measure on production instead of attendance. Is that not the silliest thing, if you think about it? “I see you, so therefore, I will count you as ‘working.’”

    I work with someone who thinks this. If you’re “working” at home, obviously you’re screwing around. Some people are so close minded, and that is a shame.

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  • Michael S.

    I really enjoyed this post as well, however I always loved my cubicle and being around a bunch of them. I don’t know why–maybe I was just in more interesting offices than those who detest them. Perhaps it’s because I reveled in streamlining my work and being semi if not completely private because of my desk.

    However, I can say that I would enjoy just as much if not more working from wherever I am.

  • jeremeyd

    Loved this post Chris. I work in an office that doesn’t allow remote working even though everything is performed on the cloud. My favorite line: “They hadn’t figured out how to measure on production instead of attendance.” Brilliant!

  • webment

    very nice post. thanks for your information

  • http://w2ogroup.com/blog LionelGeek

    I’ll join the chorus here. Really good post Chris… and love to see that you’re still putting the XPS 10 to good use! :)

    Personally, I love having Office on mobile devices. It means I can get work done in different physical locations (like you mention) across whatever device(s) I have with me at the time. Put those two things together and it’s a big change from the past.

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  • Christina Smith

    I think the reason so many employers fear telecommuting (besides what you said about measuring productivity instead of attendance) is that it means every hire has to be a great one. Sounds basic and something that should be occurring anyway but so many settle when they hire or hire the adequate instead of the amazing. You need self-starters and self-motivators for telecommuting and not every adult is at their best when given huge freedoms. An employer has to get skilled at picking those people out.

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  • Steven Buehler

    Curious if you’re still using that XPS 10 on Windows 8 or have gone back to the Mac. I recently bought an Acer Iconia W3-810 (8″ Windows 8 Tablet) and haven’t used my iPad since (my primary machine is still a Mac, but with Windows 8 also running as a Parallels VM).

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