The Workplace of the Future

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —  Workers with a hellish commute may not have to suffer through it much longer. 

According to a new report from the workplace solutions provider Regus, during the next five years, workers will only head into the office occasionally, as traditional workplaces give way to more collaborative environments.

“Companies will utilize property as a gym membership rather than as if they were signing a lease,” Bob Gaudreau, executive Vice President of Regus, tells MainStreet. In lieu of a large central office, companies will rely more on remote employees to work in their local communities, whether it’s at a library, coffee shop or business center. And when necessary, these workers will collaborate at nearby branch offices or rented-out conference rooms once or twice a week.

The research is based off of interviews conducting with 600 senior business leaders from companies of varying size around the globe.

“Companies will look at property as a fast-moving consumer good where you take it, use it and give it back when you’re done,” Gaudreau says. ”People will come to the office to generate ideas and socialize. It will not be a place to come and do the day-to-day tasks associated with the job.”

Gandreau says the transition is already happening in Europe and is starting to appear in the U.S. According to additional research done for the report, 59% of workers said their company already has provided technology to employees so that they can work remotely. And Philip Ross, CEO of Cordless Group and UnWork.com, a management consulting firm, points out that companies like Cisco and Yell have already ditched traditional desks and/or cubicles for a series of spaces designed to meet various departments’ needs.

“Office spaces will look more like airport lounges,” Ross says. “The building will be a place for people, and not just a container for desks and cubes.”

The transformation of the modern workplace has been spurred on by the advantages it presents to both companies and employees. It’s especially cost-effective, as Ross says companies often find themselves saddled down with property that is too expensive to maintain and not up to par.

“You have a space where half the desks and rooms are empty, and yet you can never get a conference room for meetings,” he said, adding that paring down office space saves money when companies aren’t paying to heat, cool or maintain a barely-used building. In fact, 71.9% of the surveyed companies predicted a decrease in the amount of office space they’ll require.

But downsizing offices doesn’t just benefit the companies—it’s also what employees want.

The survey found that while only 12.3% of current workers want to work from home, a majority (63.5%) prefer to work locally and believe the ideal commute is under 20 minutes. Currently, 32.1% of respondents working for large organizations spend 41 minutes to an hour commuting every day, while 27.4% spend more than an hour.

To this end, Ross said that changing the structure of the corporate office will have a huge impact on work/life balance.

While the office makeover is what workers want, younger generations expect it since they’re already using new technology. Accordingly, 70.9% of survey respondents said they believe that younger workers, the millennials and those still in school, will be more open to working virtually and reject the traditional office. As such, Ross said companies will be forced to adapt if they want to attract “the best and the brightest minds out there.” 

These predictions are not that different from the ones we’ve previously reported on the retail store of the future, which experts believe will have smaller, more interactive shops, despite being virtually unnecessary in the face of technological advancements. You can learn what the retail store of the future will look like on MainStreet.

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