Virtual Office? The Office is Back, Was it Ever Really Gone?

by CoyDavidson on October 28, 2011

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Employees still Prefer the Traditional over the Virtual Office

There has been a considerable amount of discussion about the increasingly mobile workforce and its potential impact on office space demand. The virtual office is a topic that gets a lot of attention these days and there is no doubt we are moving from the era of the static desk to one of mobile technologies.

Alternative Workplace Strategies on the Rise … but

A new study released by Steelcase in partnership with CoreNet Global, indicates the majority of employees are still choosing to work in the traditional office environment.

The 2011 study found that 86 percent of companies now offer alternative workplace strategies such as home offices, hoteling, (shared workspaces that can be reserved), and mobile work, (consistently using multiple places to work virtually). This number is up from 50 percent in 2009. An additional 16 percent of respondents said they plan to implement an alternative work strategy this year. Organizations reported using alternative workplace strategies to help employees improve work-life balance, (49 percent), and to save on real estate costs (31 percent).

The Virtual Office is a Part-Time Solution for Most

Despite the trend toward increasing mobility, nearly 50 percent of all organizations reported they have 10 percent or less of their employees regularly working remotely. Just 3 percent have half or more of their employees utilizing alternative workplace strategies. Seventy-two percent of respondents said the office is the best place to interact with colleagues, and 40 percent said the office provides access to much needed tools and technology.

The technological capabilities required for the virtual office may be here, but the mindset just isn’t there yet. The need for face-to-face collaboration cannot be discounted. The days of expecting employees to commute to simply sit at a computer may soon be outdated, but I believe alternative workplace strategies for most companies are best suited as a part-time option to improve work-life balance for key employees.

  • Brian

    I am happy being able to meet with people either at my home
    office, their office, a property, lunch, a title company conference room or
    coffee house. After giving Coldwell Banker Commercial and others well over $1,000,000 in
    company dollars over my work life I decided that there was a limit to what easy
    access to cubicle fellowship was worth. I still have great friends and business
    relationships. I just don’t have to pay the “house” for making it more
    convenient.

  • Brian, this article is not about the CRE brokerage business specifically, but I have worked for small boutiques firms half my 21 year career and a large global firm the last 11 and I much prefer a large office with a multi-disciplined team of professionals to collaborate with on projects, deals and better serve large corporate clients. I think it depends on the customer base you serve. I work outside the office part of the time and like that flexibility, but find I am more effective when I spend “at least” half  the time operating out of the office. The physical office environment is not what is important, it’s the collaboration and energy within the office walls.

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