I’m Only in the Office 30% of the Time, but it is an Important 30%
There has been much written about the future of work, the need for office space and alternative work strategies. Over the last 3-4 years, I have experimented with how and more specifically where I work. Given that I have a long commute to the Colliers Houston office from the suburbs by choice for family reasons and the fact that Houston traffic can be a nightmare, traveling to the office at peak commute times is out of the question. Nobody wants to spend 3 hours on the freeway every day for a round trip of 50 miles. I experimented with increasingly working from home and at one point was only going in to the office 2-3 days per week. However, over time I discovered this didn’t work well for me, as I found I had an increasing desire to be at the office.
Sure with technology today and the mobility it provides I can work from just about anywhere there is an wi-fi connection. Armed with a MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone there are few places that I can’t get my required business tasks done whether it’s a Starbucks or the front seat of my automobile.
The fact is that I am out of the office about 50% of the time just meeting with clients, touring properties and traveling to and from meetings. I also choose to work from home at the beginning of the business day and end of the business day to avoid peak Houston traffic. This cuts my total daily commute time to about 90 minutes per day versus 3 hours, if I were to opt for a regular work schedule. As a result, I spend about 20% of my time working from home. This only leaves me in my office about 30% of the time, but it is a really important 30%. This is when I collaborate with colleagues on deals, learn what’s going on in the marketplace and come up with solutions to get deals closed and create new business. In my opinion, face to face conversation is critical. That conversation in my private office, the hallway, the kitchen or one of our conference areas is often where the magic happens.
This brings me to the open vs private office debate. While I understand every office is different and the nature of your business or operation can be important factor of whether or not an open-plan collaborative office can be effective, there are some that believe we have taken workspace efficiency too far. I don’t want to have anything to do with an open-office. I still desire the ability to have quiet un-interrupted work time and private conversations about confidential client transactions. If I need to collaborate, I get up walk out of my office and do it in someone else’s workspace or one of our conference areas. All of our offices have glass partitions and if someone needs to get my attention it is easy to do. Do I still need 180 square feet? No, a 100 or 120 square feet is fine. This is the trend I am seeing with most of my clients who still opt for private offices.
Today, I spend as much time in my office as possible as long as I am not seeing a client or it is going to cause me to spend 2 hours on a freeway. The blended workspace situation is perfect for me.
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