An interesting blog debate is going on around the idea of the necessity of the office. Has remote and virtual working replaced the need for a physical office? Lane Wallace from the Atlantic argues that it is, and that much of the purported advantages of the virtual office are lacking important factors that come only from face to face interaction. A counter argument is offered by Lloyd Alter from the TreeHugger blog who infact works in a virtual situation with fellow bloggers and site managers spread across the continent. Lloyd makes a credible case on many fronts that Lane Wallace has it wrong. My reading of it sees a difference in the degree of immersion. Lloyd clearly works with a team of people fully committed to interacting across this virtual interface. Furthermore they are competent with its tools and get the most out of the interaction it offers. I did not get the sense that Lane had such an experience with her own situation. It may be a case of you get out of it what you put into it?
An interesting outcome of this for me is another good argument for the desirability of coworking. Here the employers and organizations get the advantages of eliminating large central workplaces, and their workers still enjoy the benefits of community at the workplace, and still must leverage the virtual work tools to interact with their virtual workmates.