In recent years, the line between work and personal time has gotten a bit blurry as we become an increasingly connected society. Surveys show 44% of us bringing our cellphones to bed and up to 75% of us using them in the bathroom. And many companies are beginning to embrace alternative work arrangements in order to retain highly motivated employees, with the requirement of being tied to a desk giving way to a flexible workplace that encourages creativity and acknowledges people's non-work needs.
Locally, GlaxoSmithKline made big headlines when it opened a double-LEED platinum-certified facility at the Navy Yard last year. Among other innovations, the new space generated buzz with its office-less environment, in which employees are free to choose where on the campus they work during the day, and are encouraged to collaborate with colleagues on the roof, set up a workstation in the cafeteria, or schedule "walking meetings" that can lead to the river and back. While there was some initial trepidation, said Jennifer Armstrong, US External Communications for GSK, "On the first morning, people were so excited because they saw so many coworkers they never ran into in the old location's cube farms and offices on multiple floors across two buildings." She also pointed out "when surveying people after the move, they say they wouldn't want to go back to having an office."
With the availability of increasingly high-quality free or low-cost videoconferencing options such as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting, a growing number of other companies have also come around to adopting virtual communication as a way to keep employees, clients, vendors and stakeholders connected.
It's not just about big companies, either. Nowadays, nearly one in three working Americans is an independent worker, according to the Freelancers Union, and with employers' continued reluctance to hire more full time permanent employees and progressively higher wages associated with contract positions, the trend seems likely to continue. Working independently or as a remote contractor can provide individuals with the ability to work around other responsibilities, such as caring for a child or elderly parent. But working freelance doesn't necessarily mean sitting alone in a coffee shop. Co-working spaces, such as Old City's Indy Hall or Center City's Benjamin's Desk, offer the chance to use their facilities on an as-needed basis and work alongside other professionals in a creative environment.