Secret Marketer: Why the office will soon become obsolete

As we get settled into the new year, several people have been asking me about resolutions and predictions for 2016. Although I have never been particularly good at either – a bit like tipping gee-gees at the racecourse – I will put my neck out and forecast that 2016 could be the end of the office as we know it.

Secret Marketer

For all of you reading this column hunched over desks littered with office detritus, wearing an over-tight tie or shoes that pinch while your comfortable running shoes peek out from under your desk, and remnants of sandwich crumbs bounce off your keyboard, there is hope for you.

For some time now, technology has been moving at such a pace that the need to be chained to your desk has long gone. Our phones have more computing power than was used in the last moon landing, the rise of cloud computing and remote accessing has removed the need to be on site to access company systems, and the arrival of social media has proven that you do not need to actually be in someone’s presence in order to ‘socialise’ with them.

Over the past few weeks, most of my team ‘worked from home’, which probably meant they were twice as effective, despite joining the weekly marketing meeting in their pyjamas, or signing off our latest creative campaign while in bed. All the work was done without the daily fight with other commuters to get on the train, having to dash between shop fronts to escape the rain showers, or paying an extortionate price for a sandwich at lunchtime.

So my prediction is that fewer and fewer people will do this every day. But what does that mean to us as marketers?

Ultimately, train companies will start to struggle to make the business case pay for their latest franchise auction; our town centres will not only be devoid of shops, but office blocks will start to be boarded up; people will stop buying suits, ties and dresses for the office. All of the shops that exist will start to find fewer workers purchasing their lunch or stationery, or simply popping in for a last-minute purchase on the way home.

Does this mean we will regress to some post-apocalypse landscape? That no one will leave their own home? Our purchases will be solely online, our groceries will arrive in the back of a truck, and our only form of communication will be via a computer screen (or the latest GUI device of choice). Is this the future of mankind? Surely there must be a better way?

Suddenly, my hopes for 2016 start to look far less appealing.

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  • Laura M White 2 Feb 2016 at 8:41 am

    Whilst I do think Marketing allows for working from home and not needing to be in an office, I’m not sure all jobs will have this flexibility any time soon.. so I’m not too worried about the future of office blocks and suit sales!

    • Barbara Gunter 3 Feb 2016 at 9:43 am

      I agree – working from home is very convenient, but when I did it for years I found it very depressing, lots of people like the company of others. I now opt for going to the office. It’s good to have the option (if you aren’t feeling well, have appointments etc you can work from home & the employer gets the benefit of that efficiency). But not all the time.

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