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Bees at work (XXV). Why virtual office is not for all but for some.

Joyful days ahead. April is coming. My salutations to you this morning.

Defining virtual office. First, let´s refresh the original concept of virtual as our ancestors conceived it. Virtual is what is occurring or resulting in essence or effect though not in current fact, form, or name. For our predecessors, virtual meant something nontangible, nonexistent; in which humans pretended to give value to our imagination.

With time, the meaning of virtual evolved to be related to anything created by computers. With the arrival of the world wide web, is now tied to the Internet or to the words “online”, “digital”, “connected world”, “cybernetic”, “on-screen”, or “electronic”. So, virtual means a projection of something that is non-existing in tangible terms but simulated or replicated (sometimes mimicked) by computer-generated terms.

3-D Printed Flowers May Help Save the Bee Population An Australian artist has created a design that offers bees a safer way to pollinate flowers—and the consequences could be profound. Picture Source: Michael Candy.

If we respect the latter definition, most “white-collar” workers have been performing virtual jobs in the office since several decades ago. If any of us spend more than 60% of our time in front of a computer (or a tablet or smartphone) or any screen, with or without an Internet connection, are we performing virtual jobs? Well if we stick to our ancestors´ definition and our current meaning of “virtuality”; of course, we are! Regardless of completing them at home, at our company´s desks,  in front of the seaside pristine beach, inside a Starbucks coffee shop, or on the go. What I am trying to say, is that no matter if we have or not Internet, a virtual job is something that we project to do in a computer-generated environment. When the Internet was not ubiquitous (this was the time in which Generation X grew up), computers also were available. I used a calculator and minicomputer CASIO FX 702P when I was studying structural analysis to resolve complex vectorial matrixes calculations. Was I performing a virtual task? Yes. I was doing it, without any Internet connection. So what is the point of the “virtual office”?

Internet + Virtual + Remote. Let´s continue. let´s connect a trio of things: the Internet, the virtual, and the remote. The Internet made a red-carpet entrance on us in the middle of the 1990s decade. And then the term virtual all together with the remote exploded in our lives.

The definition of remote. Remote means to be located far away, to be distant in space. Remote also designates to be hidden away or secluded. Different synonyms are associated with doing things remotely such as isolated, apart, faraway, inaccessible, outside, withdrawn, or detached. Remote and virtual activities have always been performed by humans (without the Internet). The communication was done using the post office or telegrams.  So, to work remotely is nothing new.  What is new nowadays is connecting the “remote” with the Internet and the automated NAIQIs (Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum supremacy, and the Internet) inserted in our computer real-time systems. Basically, in the context of our today´s publication remotely is to perform our tasks on a screen device (or any type of machine with NAIQIs technologies), operated and controlled from a distance but transmitting and transferring information with a central computer that monitors us using the Internet as the backbone of communications.

Check with jobs that are remote and which are not.

Let´s continue with our epic definitions.

A virtual office in our days is basically a “remote” workplace in which we perform certain tasks, functions, or responsibilities associated with the “Internet” and its associated NAIQIs platforms, for which is implicitly believed that our presence in the traditional workplace is not required anymore. So, it is an “online” remote virtual job in truth. The characteristics of the virtual office are:

  • It is not totally virtual: A virtual office is not totally virtual. It requires a physical spot in which an employee or an entrepreneur could sit down, connect to a laptop or computer, or smartphone.  Imminently it requires a good Internet signal with a decent high speed, and it involves at least a table and an excellent ergonomic chair.
  • It is performed remotely: in physical isolation from others, though interconnected virtually. It is inaccessible to the presence of other job peers, bosses, colleagues, or subordinates, even though is linked to them digitally.
  • It is only viable for knowledge, management, office administration, some scientific-technical services that do not require a laboratory, and for some types of entertainment industries.
  • Most remote jobs belong to the “white-collar” middle class (those earning between US$28,800 to US$172,000 dollars per year worldwide). A workforce or staff that represents only 12% of the global population, which has been educated at universities for the knowledge and administrative economies. It is also suitable for working moms who are taking care of children in their developmental years and for starting entrepreneurs.
  • It is also a perfect fit for those who can´t mobilize for whatever reason (the disabled to move because of physical shortcomings as a result of injuries, the elderly, the weakened, or those who live in inaccessible places)

It is called virtual because it is a parallel condition to reality. It is based on a computer model of a real or imaginary system that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated system and shows the effects in real-time.

Some jobs and some people. As mentioned previously, the virtual workplace is not suitable for all jobs or all industries. Not everyone will be able to belong to the knowledge and administrative economy jobs, particularly if they do not have a university degree that validates their job requirements. For those who do not have the proper training, the virtual office is basically not an option. Even in those physical industries, which are manual or of intense human physical labor; with the NAIQIs in place, most of those jobs are going to be transferable to machines. Humans now are at risk to be replaced by machines in every single industry, and those who believe are riskless, are going to be the first ones to be substituted through algorithms and delicate precise NAIQIs applications. That includes professors, robots supervising IT programmers, digital artists, and many more.

Position yourself inside your house. For the time being let´s consider that you belong to the knowledge and administrative-economic sectors. Or you are a digital graphic designer. Or you are a novelist. Or you are an IT specialist. Or you are a famous consultant or advisor. The virtual job demands you to have an office at home or a WFH environment. Not all of us have the capacity for a nice office inside our home. Many do not even have a good internet connection, that is why we go to coffee shops or to a place where we can find good Wi-fi.  Even with stunning high-speed Internet and a beautiful bureau, many of us suffer from difficulties to draw our attention solely to our job activities “on-screen”. It is not our fault. Our brains are affected by the screens, smartphones touches, and constant online stimuli. Some recent psychiatric discoveries adduce that our brain gray matter within the orbitofrontal cortex, particularly within the region of cognitive processes is deeply affected by these tech screens. The orbitofrontal cortex is related to our capacity for controlling our utmost higher impulses and emotions, and to decision making.

In addition, “the constant influx of online information, video-conference calls, prompts, notifications, emails, instant messaging with our job community, instructive dutiful online job training, etc is always competing for our attention, and all these bombardments of communication encourage individuals to displace concentration across multiple incoming media streams. More and more, the floods of multiple information streams are pushing us to never keep sustained attention tasks. That is why so many WFH people finish their days too tired, to the point that sleeping 8 hours a day is not enough to relax the brains for the next day’s activities. Moreover, add the health problems that many people are experiencing because of staying more than 12 hours a day working, without moving their legs at all.

The necessity to go out of the home to work. Conscious adults with strong self-control in relation to the Internet require gigantic measures and tough will to stop looking at Internet-connected devices. Now imagine how hard is for digital natives who have been brought up entirely within a connected world, particularly in developed economies. I can´t imagine the crisis, suicides, mental troubles, and other emotional disasters that Europeans, Asian, or American younger generations may bear if their Internet is shut down for some days because the satellite and 5G infrastructure of an Internet provider has been bombarded with missiles war!

The innovation for new aspects of philosophical reflections about life is banned by the internet spurs because our brains know that whatever we want to find is available on Google or other Internet platforms. So, we don´t give any work to our brains anymore. We have told you repeatedly, that my most outstanding ideas and inspirations come when I go out to walk at the park, or when I am painting watercolors with real pigments and water, or when my head is submerged in the water once swimming, or when I hide the Smartphone on purpose, and I disconnect myself from any type of screen.
Finally, with the WFH alternative, there are many activities that are neglected or abandoned. For some, the risk of extinction to activities such as bathing daily, grooming, looking good in nice clothes, wearing perfume, dressing up for occasions, greeting neighbors on a quotidian basis, interacting with others on the way to work, walking, or being mobile outdoors, etc.

The need to interact with others at work is also required. When we enter WFH mood, our social physical cognition is stopped and is substituted by social digital awareness. Investing our time in social activity with friends is very difficult for anyone with the WFH scheme. At least going to the office and working with others, was a channel that offer us the opportunity to socialize our presence. It gives us the chance to interact, socialize, have fun and enjoy the beauty of friendships along the way.  It offered us the possibility to see the sky, watch birds, feel the wind on our faces, etc… WFH people are more and more isolated and are now substituting real friends with virtual friendships that seem to be more than unnatural.

WFH may be seasonal. Working at home may become a seasonal option for those who require to be at their residence. Freelancers are experts on these WFH aspects. Freelancers are out-workers or service providers who have chosen a not full-time job, but they do it because they expect more free time for other things.  

For families, in absence of aid at home, many working parents can benefit from this seasonal alternative, particularly when the kids are not attending school, and are still between 0 to 6 years, or in the case of those who have mobility troubles. Also, this is a suitable opportunity for those who aspire to work in remote foreign areas that represent a significant distance from the headquarters office. For example, those who wish to inhabit in front of a lake or seaside, or with the rural farm style, or who simply feel more comfortable living an isolated life. No matter what reason, despite the WFH benefits for these latter individuals, WFH also has disadvantages and drawbacks in the long term. Particularly for messy people who can´t put boundaries at home, and end up working up to midnight to get things done. That is why Eleonora Escalante Strategy supports a hybrid alternative, and we will see why it is optimal to consider WFH on a case-by-case basis, for seasonal, or as a cyclical recurrent option that keeps people together in real terms too.

Striving for a balance. Our content aim for today is totally accomplished. To strive for a balance in our working model structures will be the subject of our next publication with the theme “Figuring out a hybrid working model”.

Let´s continue with our music reflection for today.

Working from home can be a mess for some.

Strategic Music section.

Why did we pick Guns´n Roses in our last publication? Guns ´n Roses has been a rock band (born in 1985) that coined its fame by offering a “rebel” or revolutionary insurgent genre platform for “well played and interpreted rock”. In 2012 Guns N’ Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This group led by the vocalist Axl Rose has had a rollercoaster history of ups and downs but is still offering concerts in South America this year.  We picked up Guns n´ Roses to make the following strategic reflection. Most of the rock bands of the 1980s decade, in their quest to defy the status quo, were plagued with substance abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual scandals, explicit violence, and murders in their concerts. The most famous top performers ended their lives younger and tragically by suicide. Examples of these singers are Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence (from INXS band).

We have nothing against the rock genre, there are even wonderful Christian and Catholic rock bands, and we hope rock will remain as a genre for several centuries. But we doubt that using music as a protest against the status quo must involve harm against others and against ourselves. The usage of rock music as a platform for injury to human beings is pathetic and ridiculous. That means all past rock entertainers should have never merged their music to any subject of self-annihilation such as negative messages, bloating from smoking too much, opioids, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, excessive roughness, exaggerated show-off of nudity, and finally suicide. All those things kill us, you know it.

The younger generations must learn from the mistakes of the rock past performers, in such a way as to never confuse music as a channel to allow any of the self-destruction motives listed above. Rock is not made for wounding us, but for exalting the good, boosting the tenderness in humans, elevating the virtues of God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Songs of today belong to “INXS”.  This is the last rock band that I will share in this saga. I have only chosen one video of the deceased Michael Hutchence and his band INXS. The song is “New Sensation”, at the concert Live Baby Live From Wembley Stadium 1991. I considered Hutchence as a beau guapisimo handsome rock star then. He was adorably appealing, isn´t he?. I also require from you a minute of silence, as a tribute promise to never, never, but in no way use rock music for self-destruction again. Nunca más por favor.

See you next Friday, blessings, and thank you for reading to me.

See you next Friday!

Sources of reference used for this publication


Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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