Ways of working

Is the office obsolete?

Businesses are increasingly offering employees remote working opportunities. But with tech giants like Yahoo putting a stop to this culture, is there still a case to be made for abandoning traditional office space in favour of a more flexible option?
 
Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com, seems to think so and has taken a more radical approach. It’s selling off its contemporary 15,000sq ft office space in San Francisco because nobody was coming in to use it. 
 
Commuting to the office was never mandatory: the lease was bought to give staff the option of a co-working space. But in January 2017, CEO Matt Mullenweg realised that only around five people (less than 1% of the company’s workforce) were taking up the offer, so decided to cut out the cost and sell. It hasn’t changed the day-to-day: employees are still either working from home, using their $250 monthly stipend to pay for another co-working space, or charging coffee shop tabs to Automattic.
 
 
 
Short-term savings come at a cultural cost
This empty-office phenomenon is anything but rare. A study by Strategy Plus suggests that 58% of office space is empty on an average day, and the money spent leasing it is lost. Those potential savings make Automattic’s approach sound more attractive, but there’s a lot to be said for bringing staff together in a shared space. 
 
 
 
Being in the same room as your teammates – at least sometimes – is critical for building a business’s social culture, combating the widely reported loneliness of homeworkers. It’s also been shown to boost productivity as the distractions of home are gone, and to encourage a collaborative approach, which helps create an innovative and inspired team. In recent years we’ve seen some early adopters of remote working turning back to a more traditional model for these very reasons. Yahoo set the tide turning in 2013 when they asked their out-of-office staff to come back in, and IBM followed suit in early 2017 in a bid to boost creativity. 
 
Long-term productivity comes from a flexible solution
So what’s the answer? Companies should focus on flexibility. Local offices boost employee satisfaction by cutting the commute, and result in employees spending longer at work as they can still get home in good time. For the 52% of people working 2.5 days remotely already, and those who never come into the office, companies should consider leasing co-working space so they can benefit from networking opportunities and creativity-boosting interaction. 
 
 
 
It’s crucial that spaces can react nimbly to a workforce’s changing needs. To find out how you could streamline your property solutions and increase productivity and employee satisfaction, visit the Regus website