Analyst: Virtual workspaces will come

Moving from work places in offices to virtual workspaces on computer networks will help the country deal with problems such as increased energy demands and an aging workforce, Christian Renaud said today at National Defense University’s Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds Conference in Washington.

Renaud is chief executive officer of the analyst firm Technology Intelligence Group, and he previously served as Cisco Systems’ chief architect of networked virtual environments.

Global issues such as disease, lack of access to drinking water and increased energy demands will drive organizations to adopt virtual working environments, he said.

Renaud expects the United States to have an energy problem in the next decade that will surpass the energy shortages California faced in the 1990s. Growing demand for energy and a decreased investment in energy infrastructures will exacerbate the problem, he said, adding that government agencies and businesses will have to make better use of existing resources to address the problems.

“Part of that is not wasting those resources driving back and forth to the office when you can do the job just as easily from home in a virtual workspace,” Renaud said.

Meanwhile, a shrinking economy or one that grows more slowly will also force organizations to reduce spending, Renaud said. “When people go to tighten belts, a lot of technology innovations are born out of necessity. Virtual workspaces are a less expensive alternative to putting everybody in a barn with a bunch of cubicles and having them work from there.”

“We are going to have to be a lot more flexible about alternative work arrangements so we can keep the lights off at the office all day long,” Renaud said.

Building a broadband infrastructure that can be accessed from anywhere will play an important role in making wide adoption of virtual working environments a reality, he said.

Other pressures could also push adoption. For example, aging baby boomers might stay in the workforce longer if they do not have to commute to offices.

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