Future Workplace Formula: More Teleworkers, Fewer Desks

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Oct 12, 2012

By 2020, organizations around the globe are set to reduce office space by almost a fifth, according to a 2012 study by Citrix, a provider of mobile technology. The workplace of the future will provide just seven desks for every 10 office workers, with each person accessing the corporate IT network from an average of six different computing devices, the study suggests. Regionally, the figure for 2020 is as low as six desks for every 10 workers in the U.S., U.K, Singapore and Netherlands.

The Citrix Workplace of the Future report polled 1,900 senior IT decision-makers across 19 countries. Respondents believe that a third of employees (29 percent) will no longer work from their traditional office. Instead, by 2020, employees will base themselves from various semipermanent locations, including home, field and project sites, and customer or partner premises. In addition, employees are expected to access corporate applications, data and services from locations, such as hotels, airports, coffee shops and transit vehicles.

Organizations expect to reduce workplace space by 7 percent by 2014, and nearly 17 percent by 2020, according to the report.

Workshifting involves moving work to more optimal times and locations. Organizations that have implemented workshifting already have 15 percent fewer desks than those who have not implemented such a policy, helping to deliver real estate savings.

Workshifting Raises Morale

A number of benefits are associated with increasing the number of teleworkers:

  • For organizations, workshifting creates a more flexible, agile workplace (cited by 73 percent of respondents), lowers employee-related costs (53 percent), reduces real estate costs (48 percent) and helps attract (47 percent) and retain (44 percent) top talent.
  • For employees, workshifting leads to more flexibility (cited by 65 percent of respondents), increased personal productivity (62 percent), less commuting time (61 percent) and a better work/life balance(55 percent). It also enables employees to spend more time with customers (48 percent).

Almost all respondents said they expect that future office space will be redesigned to be more appealing.

“Organizations are encouraging people to operate outside of the traditional workplace on their own personal devices to improve the bottom line by making the organization more responsive, improving productivity and reducing the cost of real estate and device management,” said Mick Hollison, vice president of integrated marketing and strategy at Citrix, in a media statement. “At the same time, organizations are investing in the space they have to create enticing workplaces that foster collaboration, innovation and creativity. The result is a stronger organization, with high-caliber people performing at their best.”

Safeguarding Data

Globally, most organizations (83 percent) will use bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives to manage the growing number of devices that people use to access the corporate network. Generally, employees will choose and purchase their own computing devices, with 76 percent of organizations reimbursing the employee in part or in full.

The key drivers for an organization to provide funding for BYOD are to ensure it retains a degree of legal and technical control over the device and the management of its data, and to take advantage of potential cost savings by shifting procurement and maintenance to employees and contractors. Also, to ensure that sensitive data is managed correctly, 65 percent of organizations will consider employee eligibility criteria as a key part of their mobile workstyles policy.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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