An article from Microsoft addressing the old style of offices asserts, “Office space itself was designed for prestige. To climb the corporate ladder, you landed the larger office. Then you moved to the bigger office with a window, with the final prize of the even bigger corner office with two windows and the mahogany desk.”
But then something happened: technology. Cell phones and laptop computers came into our lives; we no longer cared as much about the corner office with a window.
Why Employees Don’t Want to Come to the Office
And why would we care, when we could just take a laptop to the local coffee shop and enjoy sipping a frothy delicious beverage while creating reports in Excel. Or stay at home and pull double duty washing clothes while answering sales calls.
The option to work anywhere and at any time appeals to employees, especially those brought up in an era of wireless internet and phones that basically double as computers. In fact, according to data compiled by Intuit, “In the US, 24% of workers telecommute some hours each week and 4.4% telecommute every day. Also, 59% of employers offer telecommuting options and 79% of workers want to work from home at least part-time.”
Why Businesses are Embracing Telecommuting
However, the benefits of telecommuting aren’t just for workers; employers experience many advantages as well. Inc. Magazine states, “If an employee with a telecommute compatible job works at home half the time, your average annual savings on rent, etc. is about $11,000. Furthermore, at-home workers are 11-20% more productive when working on creative tasks.”
You can see how this plays out in building costs. Here is an example: The average price per square foot for construction on a two to four story office building is $181*, and the average square foot of space per worker is 150.**
So if you are building an office for 10 employees, the cost will be $271,500. But if two of those employees work from home every day, the cost is reduced to $217,200. That’s a savings of $54,300 in building construction costs. Now this is not an exact figure; it’s more a representation. But you can still see that there are significant real-estate savings that come with telecommuting workers.
The Potential Downsides of Telecommuting
But telecommuting isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. The same article from Inc. Magazine also states, “Employees are 6-10% less productive when working on repetitive tasks. Additionally, BBC News Magazine points out, “Not ‘being seen in the office’ may affect a person’s chances of promotion, result in a smaller pay rise than office-based peers, and lower performance evaluations.”
Even though employees can still communicate with their coworkers, in-person interactions are limited. Which is a shame since non-verbal cues and tone of voice greatly influence how we are perceived by our peers and superiors. We’ve all had that email interaction that went downhill very quickly when things were misinterpreted.
The Lesson Businesses Can Learn From the Upswing in Telecommuting
At the end of the day, he lesson here is that the way people work is changing. More and more employees want flexibility. And to stay competitive, businesses need to adapt and get in line with the way employees prefer to work.
If you want employees to come into the office, you need to make it a place people want to be. For many businesses, this means stepping away from the big corner offices with two windows and a mahogany desk, and embracing a more open office focused on collaboration.
To find out how to get started designing an open office and how we can help, continue reading on our website here or give us a call at 1-800-803-1083.