The office building is the text version of belching smokestack-noon whistle-timecard punching-id badge-break room-factory of my youth. The cubicles and the old CRTs and the in and outboxes are the assembly line of text now. That's the modern version of the old sepia colored photo of a humming factory. You nice folks with the boxy shoes and skinny glasses and the Blackberrys and ACT folders open are the buggy whip people now. You are the people who used to wear coveralls and carry a sandwich in a pail and grind it out until you get a watch and bed with a lid. Not me.
Ron Fisher has also spoken - eloquently and at length - about something he calls "the end of work". He can envision a world in which we all function as autonomous agents who come together on an as-needed basis to exercise our skills.
From what they've written and said, I can infer (with creative license) that for craftsmen such as these the so-called "corporate world" is a fluorescent-lit hell, populated by pallid masses of the fooled.
I would respectfully disagree.
Twenty years ago, the concept of working for a single company for your career wasn't dead, but it was reeling. Today, there are few if any pensions, little security, and no promise of employment if you follow the rules and fly right.
But we still come together to get things done. We rally together, joined by a common vision and sense of urgency.
When we work from home - or work remotely - there's still a sense that we're connected to a place and the people who inhabit that space. Whether this is hard-wired into our reptilian brain or not, there is something very primal about working together, side by side. Even if that "work" is to create something intangible, such as software, or a health care communications platform.
It's not about showing up to punch a card. It's not about "putting in face time". We work together because, in a way, we need to be together, and that sense of togetherness and belonging is in-and-of-itself a major motivator.
If you've ever worked in a "remote office", you know the feeling of being disconnected from "the center of power". A colleague recently moved from Boston to Chicago, and I can tell you that he's already a few orders of magnitude more effective (and better understood and appreciated) now that he's here. With us.
There may come a time when we can all exercise our individual crafts from the comfort of our home offices, when we can roll out of bed and "get busy". For certain of us who are truly craftsmen, this works. For the rest of us who function best when we function as part of a team, there will always be a real benefit to looking each other in the eye.