Written by Lori Thiessen

Now that we are becoming normalized to people using coffee shops as their alternative offices, the next step is … well, anybody’s guess.

Here’s a guess from Changeboard, a UK based website that deals with all things HR. In a post on virtual working, the author forecasts that improvements in technology infrastructure will make WIFI hotspots a thing of the past. People will truly no longer be tied to any particular location.  The coffee shop office will give way to a truly virtual office; any time, anywhere.

The author also enthuses that this will mean less stress for everyone. I’m not so sure about that.

The 24/7 lifestyle is difficult to maintain especially since 24/7 means that work takes centre stage. When work was based mainly on office attendence, the work day was clearly defined. And there were some benefits to that. You knew when you left the building your life was your own again.

With improvements to technology infrastructure, it could mean that you never leave your office. Could this also mean that your life will never be your own? Is tech-slavery the next step beyond microserfdom?

My husband works for a company that specializes in large data storage systems. Their clients are all over the globe, but the customer service contract means that clients get to call whenever they are having an emergency. There have been times when my husband is the No. 1 call guy that we get calls at 3 am our time from Sweden, or while he’s taking a shower. Fortunately, he’s on a 2 week rota system so  this isn’t our life all the time. But being woken from a deep sleep because the Blackberry is tinkling away is not fun.

If remote working means that traditional working hours are done away with, then other clear time boundaries will need to be put in place.  Perhaps there will be a tech version of the old ‘back at’ sign, or people will be contracted to answer any email or voicemail within 2 hrs. I’ve noticed that some friends of mine are beginning to say things like, “After 6 pm, I shut off my work cell phone” or “I shut down my computer at 9 pm”. It’s just not possible or sustainable to be available 24/7.

There are many good things about remote working and being able to structure your work day that best suits you is one of them. But what starts out as a good thing can sometimes go wrong.

Being clear about your time boundaries is a great start to keeping a good thing good.

Q: How have you managed time in your cafe commuter life?

If you haven’t already filled out our survey, then Gregg and I invite you to share your cafe commuter experiences at

www.coffeeshopsurvey.com

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

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