Can your organisation go ‘office-less’?

There still exists the assumption across some businesses that for a company to succeed, it must have a series of physical offices throughout a region. Whilst this may have once been the case, this is no longer true.

In fact, companies that are ‘office-less’, despite being nomadic, can not only thrive but in fact develop a very strong, cohesive culture. Businesses can easily spend more than £15,000 per month to rent an office that frequently has fewer than ten people in it.

Cloud technology is the enabler that helps companies to reinvent the way they do business. A company’s headcount can grow but the infrastructure and overheads don’t have to if a business follows an all-cloud model.

> See also: So you want flexible workers – but do you have the right collaboration strategy?

The cloud is about elasticity – scaling up and down as needed. It’s about shared infrastructure. It enables mobility, letting people work wherever and whenever they want to. It’s fast to deploy and staff members can get up and running quickly. And it integrates with everything allowing information to be shared quickly across multiple platforms.

In turn, this infrastructure enables a different way to work, and the culture that emerges can mirror cloud principles: It’s lean, mobile, agile, efficient – and optimised for collaboration.

Office as a service

For internationally growing companies, to lease and provision offices across different countries would be prohibitively expensive for a young business. With the cloud, it’s not necessary.

CRM system, company intranet, storage, email and shared files can all be put in the cloud. Off-the-shelf PCs and MacBook Airs can be bought to allow for BYOD. Employee credentials for full access can be emailed to them on their start date allowing them to get to work straight away. Businesses don't need an IT person in their market – unless you count the Genius Bar.

Companies can instead use registered virtual offices which provide a fixed business address with office space on demand and teams can meet on a regular basis. Just as the cloud provides capacity on demand, conference rooms can be rented on demand when they are needed. Meetings can be held on customer sites, in airports and, of course, coffee shops, letting Starbucks pay for changing the light bulbs, sweeping the floors, and taking out the rubbish.

In any central location, most people would have to spend an hour or so commuting each way. Eliminating that commute is one reason a small team can achieve as much work as a much larger organisation. There’s not a lot of overhead involved in getting down to business.

Questioning the status quo

The cloud gives companies the ability to question the status quo, and the freedom to structure their business in the way that best fits the situation. There was a time when companies used to generate their own electricity and pump their own water, striving for full vertical integration. Times have clearly changed, and this is no longer recognised as a sensible strategy.

Now businesses don’t have to build out their own IT infrastructure, you may not even need physical offices anymore. The beauty of the cloud is that it frees up organisations to focus on what's critical.

> See also: Is this the death of the office desk?

Businesses need a core accounting system and certain elements of infrastructure but beyond that, companies need to ask what they really need. For some that may be team building more than office building. For the corporate IT team, it’s allows them get out of the business of setup and user maintenance, and focus instead on governing cloud operations and, of course, on security.

As companies evolve, at some point their structures may change. As they grow they need to constantly monitor and fine-tune ways of working to make sure they stay competitive and optimised. When once a company was seen as innovative for being able to pump its own water and generate its own electricity, this is no longer the case. The same applies to the way in which we work. With the cloud, long gone are the days where a company needs a series of physical offices.

Sourced from Alex Kleiner, general manager, Coupa EMEA

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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