It was a time long regarded as the solution to all our problems: teleworking. Traffic jams, CO2 emissions, high housing costs, everything would be solved through the home workspace. I once attended a talk where ‘office guru’ Erik Veldhoen spoke – it was somewhere at the end of the last century – in which he announced that our work would not only be completely paperless within 5 years, but also that the office as we knew it today will be an arte fact from grandmother’s time within 10 years. Veldhoen summed up his ideas together in a book with the catchy book title ‘offices no longer exist ‘.
The history is often very different from authors predictions in their books. If Karl Marx had now still lived, then he was in no doubt disappointed and touched about the spread of capitalism and the absence of Salvation. Similarly, Erik Veldhoen will probably scratch himself on the head. Because his predictions are determined not to come true: we all still using paper daily and teleworking is usually reserved only for the boss and his lackeys. The moderate success of the teleworking is well explainable. First of all, Office work involves than staring at a screen. The majority of office workers can only perform when the archive and the knowledge sharing colleagues are constantly within reach. Teleworking ‘experts’ like Veldhoen conveniently forgot that people are social animals who will achive much better performance in a group than in a small boring work cell in their own dwelling. There is a reason why the office interiors industry talks about collaborative work spaces.
In addition to this, the average person cannot be trusted. Every successful employer knows that the majority of employees only perform when constantly monitored. And exactly that control is missing with agile working. Then, of course, there are the cost factor. Because who is actually going to pay for the fully equipped facilities at home? The employer? He will think: why would he pay for the interiors of a room that will be in the long run probably more often used for chat sessions and completing the digital tax return than for the work for which the employer already fitted out a big and expensive office building?
No, when we try to cut the rush-hour and the CO2 emissions of the endless stream of commuters, then we have more hoped on the wretched road pricing or a new oil crisis than of teleworking. This long-hyped form of ‘the new way of working’ will never break through. How ever much the office interiors sector would like us to beleive.