Office on the Range
By Jim Bray
The home office may be under
attack, thanks to the wireless revolution. But thats not necessarily
a bad thing.
Over the past decade or so,
the growth of personal computers, fax machines, e-mail, the Internet
and couriers has turned the home office into an extremely popular
"workstyle." Some people embraced the home office through necessity:
after being "corporately downsized" many founded their own home-based
companies. Others just liked the idea of being able to work in their jammies.
All that was required for success
at home, besides the technological tools and healthy dose of self discipline,
was the connection to the world provided by the telephone and/or cable
lines that come to your home.
But now, those wires are being
cut, and the home office shows signs of becoming the "virtual office."
Thanks to recent advances in
wireless communication, a virtual office isnt bound by any walls
or indeed by any one location. It can be in your car, on the deck
in your back yard, at the beach, in a hotel, or anywhere else.
The concept isnt really
new, of course. Portable computers have been around for years, though
now theyre smaller and more powerful than ever. Cellular phones
arent new, either, nor are cellular modems for laptop computers.
But the technological revolution thats changing the face of wireless
communications is making the virtual office more practical, affordable,
and therefore more attractive, than ever.
Digital PCS services are providing
a lot of impetus to the virtual office. Not only do they offer much clearer
voice quality than earlier generations of wireless phones, but that clarity
also translates into better data transmission.
And the longer life offered
by new generations of batteries doesnt hurt, either!
The PCS is really the focal
point of the virtual office. With these dandy little cellphones you can
send and retrieve data through the airwaves, using the phones keypad
much as you would a computer keyboard and when coupled with the
cellular modem, it allows your notebook computer to be as connected to
the whole wide world as your home or office computer.
A Recipe for Success
Take todays enhanced
telephone services (like paging and call forwarding), blend them with
the range of features offered by digital PCS (like better security and
access to the information cornucopia known as the Internet), stir vigorously,
and youve created a powerful, multi-media communications centre.
Not only that, but this info-juggernaut is small enough to fit in the
palm of your hand, yet powerful enough to let you make phone calls, check
remote fax machines, retrieve e-mail, and even surf the World Wide Web.
And this is only the beginning.
As data transmission speeds and capacity increases, the sky is literally
Imagine being able to videoconference
via your PCS. Its coming soon. Sos the capability for
"E-commerce" and even digital photography over your PCS.
These innovations require new
generations of handsets, units thatll be far more than just telephones,
but theyre already in the works and will be on the streets almost
before you know it.
Naturally, not everyone wants
to be walking down the street, staring into their PCS handset as they
videoconference with someone around the world. After all, it hurts when
you walk into a traffic light pole! The point is freedom of choice, and
control: for those who need, or want, the power and flexibility thats
coming with the new generations of digital phones, itll be there.
Youll have the freedom to do business or just yak
anywhere, at any time.
And dont forget, just
because you have the capability of doing business while at juniors
hockey game doesnt mean you have to: youll still be able to
turn off the handset when you want a different kind of freedom.
The other side of the coin
is that you can get work done on vacation, after the kids are in
bed and youre relaxing in front of the TV. And because youre
"connected" to the wireless world, you wont have to worry
about finding or hotwiring a phone jack: you can just kick
back, boot up, dial up, and be as productive as you choose to be.
Theres more. New features
being looked at by service providers include "incoming call management"
using distinctive ringing tones on the handset. For example, youll
be able to set the unit to emit three short rings if theres a problem
at headquarters, or home, that needs your immediate attention, while the
rest of your calls go to your voicemail. So you can dine in peace, secure
in the knowledge that if theres a real emergency, youll know
Or how about a multi-ring call
forwarding feature that lets you dial one number, but which transfers
the call to subsequent numbers until you actually connect with the person
youre trying to reach?
Even more mainstream features
like caller identification, text messaging, and e-mail, let you maintain
control by letting you take the calls that are important, while sending
the rest to electronic purgatory until youre ready to respond.
The Nut Behind the Wheel
All of these lovely features,
existing and future, are merely tools designed to enhance your life
not control it. The bottom line, as always, lies with the people who actually
use the technology the consumer. The workaholic who lets the cellphone
ring during the symphony isnt going away but at least his
or her phone will be able to just print out a line of text, or vibrate
gently, rather than jangle the nerves of everyone in the audience.
So while the virtual office
means the workplace is all around us, it also means were in control
of how and when we go to work. And for those who want those capabilities,
Who knows? Perhaps the new
generations of digital communications technologies may even help make
our roads safer, as people learn they dont need to drive one-handed
every time the phone rings!
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think