Smart Work & Vending. Does Working From Home Threaten The Coffee Break?

New statistics are predicting an increase in home working. The good news is that home workers enjoy better working conditions: the bad news is the loss of small talk in front of the coffee machine. It’s food for thought…

Wake up, turn on the computer and get to work. Go to the public library or to an internet cafè and log on to do business. Is this ‘goodbye’ to the office as we know it, with its noisy communal spaces? The latest trend is towards ‘smart working’, which supercedes traditional office life with telecommuting from home made possible by the use of digital devices. These days, the flashing green light calls us to Skype video conferences with Rome, Paris and Hong Kong (watch out for the time zones!) wherever we are, bringing colleagues from across the world so much closer to us.

Experts tell us that ‘jumping out of the traditional business straightjacket translates into more time for yourself, a better quality of life, greater productivity, less stress and less pollution’. Sure, the daily work schedules are more elastic than they were, which is a breath of fresh air for mums everywhere!. The time and the expense of traveling to the office disappear and the environment benefits from the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. You save money, you feel more motivated and you produce more. ‘Stress’ takes a vacation!

So far so good, but ‘yin and yang’ always teaches us to look at the other side of the coin. Working also means to interact with others, to be able to discuss problems and opportunities. This social dimension remains crucial: it is a source of motivation for growth, for competition and also for comfort. Digital devices create a proximity which is only superficial, a virtual ‘belonging’ that means, in reality, being alone. The phenomenon has a name; it’s called ‘remote workers isolation.’ People miss the face-to-face chat in front of the coffee machine, complete with the delicious aroma of good espresso.

We think that the ideal solution lies somewhere in the middle: a few days in the office and a few days working from home.

What do you think?

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