With nearly three hours lost per day to office-related interruptions and distractions, a traditional office space is no longer considered the most productive. These lost hours cost American businesses over $750 billion per year.
But, while face-to-face communication is still important and necessary, it is also important for companies to understand employees’ needs by providing flexible work environments and empowering them to decide how they will be most productive. So with that said, an office with an actual desk and physically commuting to a nine-to-five job might soon be a mythical story that sounds as fantastical as seeing a unicorn.
Today’s companies focused on transforming and preparing for the future of work want to reap the benefits of the “new” workforce. In response, they are transforming their workspaces to the open-space environments the new workforce craves. These spaces look more like collaborative team meetings and emit a sense of opportunity and excitement that the traditional, isolated office can’t.
With the emphasis on collaboration and productivity and the goal of fostering innovation, there are a few trends that may kill the traditional office for good.
As future of work expert, Jacob Morgan points out in a blog post, “Once employees are 200 feet away (or more) from each other, the chances of them talking to one another is virtually zero.” Sharing spaces in an open format can inspire and create a more productive workforce.
Without four physical walls isolating employees from each other, they can open up and collaborate more freely with less effort. This new configuration could encourage sharing office spaces or sharing desks. The benefits include harnessing the “two heads are better than one” concept instead of keeping ideas isolated in individual offices. These shared and open spaces will broaden and increase collaboration.
For more collaborative success, some companies, such as Deloitte, are taking away desk arrangements altogether and joining the “hot desking” trend. This trend includes bring in standing desks, treadmill desks, and sofas, and mixing them with a few traditional desks to satisfy the changing moods employees or to spark inspiration.
Mark Whitmore, the managing general partner in Deloitte’s Toronto location, is giving up his office suite knowing that this change is, “a chance for us to do something pretty dramatic and change the way or structure of how we work.”
Coworking spaces give businesses a lower cost solution to the traditional office space. With desk space, professional amenities, and Wi-Fi access, workers can rent a space and get their work done. And cowering spaces – whether it be for freelancers or contingent workers – offer more than just getting that report in on time. The brain power in these places often offer networking (sometimes without trying), learning, and even chance meetings with professionals from other companies.
There was a 79 percent increase in telecommuting between 2005 and 2012, with 3.2 million workers part of this remote workforce. Companies such as Amazon, UnitedHealth Group, and Kaplan are among Forbes’s list of top 100 companies offering telecommuting in 2015. A report by Chess Media Group reported that 90 percent of workers see an organization offering flexible work environments is more attractive than those that do not.
The growth of this contingent workforce is spurring the trend of working from anywhere at anytime. And even for full-time employees, mobile devices and cloud services are supporting the transformation from the office to working remotely.
Let’s face it, the traditional office is dead and the future of the office reflects the future of work – open, full of opportunity, and focused on collaboration.