A look at trends that are reshaping modern office
A couple of years ago, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer made the controversial announcement that her employees could no longer work from home and would need to return to working in the office.
But lots of companies wrestling with how to get people to show their face at work, in an era during which telecommuting is increasingly popular, are trying to lure them back rather than mandate it. While organizations have long embraced the benefits of “hoteling,” in which employees reserve desks for themselves rather than getting a dedicated space to work every day, many are taking that concept even further, adding concierge-like staff and other perks to give workers more reasons to comeon site.
That’s one of the big takeaways of a report released last week at Neo Con, the annual mega conference attended by major designers of corporate America’s offices and cubicles. The report was put together by Knoll, the workplace design company, and Un Wired, a British publishing and events business focused on the future of work. It surveyed leaders in charge of the facilities and real estate of 46 global companies.
Here are highlights from the new report that reflect how the modern office is changing:
People spend only about half their professional time at corporate headquarters. The leaders surveyed said their workers spend about 49% of their time in the company’s main office, with the rest of their time divided between other offices, client sites, working from home and “third spaces” such as coffee shops or the sidelines of their kids’ soccer field.
They also spend a lot of time away from their desks. On a typical day among the companies surveyed, desks are in use only 47% of the time, and meeting rooms are only in use 50% to 60%.
The “hoteling” concept is expanding. Many companies have been practicing the idea of “hoteling” for a while, in which employees reserve desks when they need them rather than having their own. Some, however, are taking that concept even further now. As the modern workforce increasingly includes collaborative teams of clients, partners, freelancers and contract workers — as well as traveling employees — the office is becoming more of a hospitality hub than a home base.
“These ecosystems have expanded,” said Knoll’s workplace vice president, Tracy Wymer. “The facility needs to accommodate them. The closest analogy is a hotel lobby experience,” he said, where hotel guests and the people they need tomeet with can congregate.
That’s leading to more, and different, perks. Knoll’s report states that “the move to concierge service” is changing the nature of the workplace. “At some offices, a host, often created from a combined facilities management and IT support function, provides a one-stop shop for all support needs, from travel to technology and personal shopping, dry cleaning to bicycle repair.”
New technology could make spending time in the office more attractive. Although some people may think we’ll all be working from home in our pajamas, Knoll’s report describes a future for corporate real estate that turns the office into part of the “Internet of things”— the tech industry’s term for Web-enabled everyday objects. Already, sensors can help companies manage their energy based on how manypeople are in the building. But Knoll’s report says muchmore is coming.
“Real-time real estate,” Wymer said, could one day provide workers with information on conveniences (like whether the espresso line is too long on the thirdfloor) as well as opportunities for collaboration. For instance, it could let you know if your team members are eating lunch together in the cafe.
Such tools could one day help you “know who’s around you, who may have worked on something similar to you,” Wymer said. “The ultimate goal is to drive a higher degree of innovation.”