The office is dead. Long live the office.

January 21, 2010: 10:00 AM ET

Forget "work from home" – today's mobile employee works from anywhere (and everywhere!)

By Bruce Chatterley, CEO, Speakeasy

Chatterley: We want all our work apps, including voice, while on the road. Photo: Speakeasy.

It isn't exactly a news flash that the workforce of today spends increasingly more time away from the traditional office building.  But these employees aren't just telecommuting.

No longer tethered to their desks, employees now move freely between work, home and anywhere else. And they expect that they can do their work on the go without sacrificing the benefits of in-office technology. Beyond the work-from-home movement, this pattern is what we call the work-from-anywhere phenomenon.

Forrester Research recently conducted a study on the telecommuting workforce, noting two thirds of information workers (or what Forrester calls 'iWorkers') want more flexibility in their work hours.  Consequently, 11% of the Forrester survey respondents reported they have a smartphone from work, while 33 % reported using their own device to work remotely. And they're using their devices everywhere — 81% from home, 62% while traveling, and 64% at work.

Do all of these facts and figures mean the traditional office is dead or dying? Not exactly.

But they do signal that the work-from-anywhere phenomenon is on the rise. As a result, Speakeasy has seen an increase in the adoption of hosted voice (voice-over-IP) services, which includes a feature called Remote Office that allows employees to use one number when making or receiving calls, consistently reflecting an 'in-office' appearance, whether the employee is in the office, at home, on the road or on a beach in Aruba.

These types of mobility features are critical for companies like Ballast Realty, a Boston-based realty firm with a largely mobile workforce. Ballast uses Speakeasy Hosted Voice, enabling its agents to use mobile IP calling features such as hunt groups, advanced call forwarding and remote office capabilities. This allows Ballast employees to easily route business calls to their mobile devices while on the road, and also allows them to make calls from their mobile devices that to their clients, appear to be made from their office number.

Laptops and other mobile computing devices can also be equipped with these types of features, allowing employees to make and receive calls, retrieve voicemail, and manage their entire office phone system remotely.

As companies continue to navigate the challenging economic environment, it is becoming apparent that virtual technology is more than just a trend, and is in fact a necessity to allow for more work in more places. With the increasing use of hosted voice applications, laptops and netbooks, smartphones, and new communications applications for these devices, the work-from-anywhere phenomenon has arrived.

Chatterley is CEO of Speakeasy, a Seattle-based unit of Best Buy (BBY) that provides broadband voice (VoIP), data and IT services to small businesses.

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