Will the traditional office soon become extinct?

As organizations increasingly escape the confines of office walls and move toward an agile working environment, the need for a fixed workplace is becoming less important. According to a global survey of 600 executives, nearly 60 percent of respondents from large organizations predict a decrease in the need for office space as a result of future work styles, as technology enables people to become nomadic workers and work becomes more “local”.

The report responds to calls from top business managers to define and quantify the benefits of agile working in the enterprise. This is the next big challenge for corporations – how to measure “agility” in a world where measurements are still based on rent, rates and the ‘per square foot’, one-person-one-desk approach. With typical office occupancy rates running at only 45 percent, empty desks no longer make sense in a business environment where mobility and agility are becoming accepted as the most effective and sustainable way of working.

The report includes detailed insights from corporate real estate executives at 16 global companies including Cisco, Nokia, BBC, Tesco and GSK. One of the visions emerging from the discussion around the future of agile work is the ‘buy your own’ workspace model, which mirrors the IT provisioning strategy already being pioneered by some employers.

These firms are giving staff the option to purchase and use the computer of their choice at work, thereby lowering costs and enhancing flexibility. An extension of the BYO work model will see individuals in charge of an annual budget to purchase the tools, spaces and services they need to work most effectively.

As the concept of virtuality gains ground, monetizing agility and creating a robust business case for changing the way we work will become essential. The future of work will involve organisations moving toward a more flexible work model where employees will be allowed to buy their own office space.

It will be critical for companies to find a new measure for the cost of ‘provisioning work’ that leaves behind the traditional approaches of rent and rates in a ‘per square foot’ fixed world,” said Phillip Ross, Chief Executive Officer, Unwired Ventures. “As the utilisation of an office today is typically only 45 percent, empty desks no longer make sense in a world where mobility and agility will become accepted by people as the most effective and sustainable way of working.”

Additional highlights from the survey include the following:

‘New Ways of Working’

  • 62.5 percent of large enterprises surveyed have already rolled out new ways of working
  • 59 percent of respondents said they no longer struggle to work effectively outside the workplace.

Going Local

  • Only 9.7 percent of people would like to work from home
  • 64 percent of respondents believe the ideal commute to work is under 20 minutes and 25 percent want less than a 10 minute commute.
  • Currently, 32 percent of respondents that work for large organizations spend 41 minutes to an hour commuting every day and 27 percent spend over an hour.

Bricks and Clicks

  • 79 percent of respondents feel they have the right technology to be productive in their workplace and increasingly are being given technology enablers to be able to work from any location.
  • More than half (51 percent) are enabled with everything they need, while 42 percent have a few tools but expressed that technology capabilities could be improved.

Generational

71 percent of those surveyed believe that younger workers, the millennials and the generation still at school, will be more accepting of virtual working and reject the traditional office.

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Chief executive and founder, Mark Dixon is one of Europe’s best-known entrepreneurs. Since founding Regus in Brussels, Belgium in 1989, he has achieved a formidable reputation for leadership and innovation. Prior to Regus he established businesses in the retail and wholesale food industry. Recipient of several awards for enterprise, Mark has revolutionised the way business approaches its property needs with his vision of the future of work.

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