We think nothing of speaking to several people at once, with live video, located in different countries on our mobile phones. We entrust our vital data to be stored in a ‘cloud’ which we can’t see – and never will. We risk transmitting sensitive financial information and transactions via unseen channels. Artificial intelligence, or machine learning, tells us what we want before we know we want it, beats you at chess, and translates a conversation into several languages.
Electronic energy is sculpted into music, films, voices and text and transferred by radio signals to and from our devices. Wi-Fi at home and in your coffee shop is just the beginning; there are entire cities with free wireless networks, and there are plans to cover the rest of the planet with drones, high altitude balloons and orbiting satellites.
So, this is now the workplace. Our offices and handy bits of furniture can seem important with their traditional status, but we can mix and match desks, and put up with old office buildings. They can even add some quaint charm if handled well.
But when our broadband fails, we lose a mobile signal, our laptop refuses to boot, or our phone runs out of battery, grumpiness is not the outcome, it is more likely rage, panic, fear and depression.
The physical workplace is important – it is also my living – but it plays second fiddle to the invisible workplace in the sky or, more accurately, the cloud, and for better or worse we should pay more attention to it.