It Doesn’t Matter How and Where Work Gets Done. The Death of Office Space, Office Hours and the Employee-Employer Relationship.

My brother started a new job in business development for an international company about six months ago. His boss lives in Toronto. He lives in Memphis, TN. In fact, he didn’t meet his boss until after he was hired. He works from home, or his car, or an airplane, or a hotel room, a Starbucks or really anywhere as long as he has a WIFI connection and a cell phone, it doesn’t matter where he is.

We at Horizon Point just finished a project on wage analysis. Neither I nor our other full-time employee did any of the number crunching for it. The data analysis was done by a contract employee who works comp projects for us from time to time. She lives two hours away and has a full-time job by day. I never saw her once face-to-face throughout this project. I have met her once in person two years ago.

In reading Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes (read further insights from his work here) it was interesting to learn that when he first started, everything was done out of his small apartment in Venice Beach, California. He asked a coffee shop if he could use their prominent address as his business address to receive mail. He emphasized several times how office space is simply a waste of money.

What do all of these illustrations point to? The world of commerce doesn’t care how or where or who gets work done, it just cares that is done, and done with quality, of course.

Our first inclination is to think the reason for this is because the worker wants it. Newer generations are “demanding” more flexibility and we live in a time where technology allows this to work. In fact, the search for the keyword “remote” work has increased 85% over the last two years on indeed.com. While this may be true, the reality of why these shifts are taking place is simple. It makes bottom-line business sense.

In a study highlighted in HR Magazine, of those who telework, “77% reported greater productivity while working offsite, 23% are willing to work longer hours from home than they would onsite, and 42% feel just as connected with colleagues as if they were working on the premises.”

Contract labor will continue to increase as the employer/employee relationship “costs” too much for both the individual and the organization. Because of this, people will be working multiple “jobs” for multiple “employers” at any given time and over their lifespan.

Devoted “office space” in many obsolete in some industries where it is an expense that isn’t needed. Rising shared office space models will continue to grow and become the norm and people will continue to work more from home.

If you’re a part of an organization (more on what this means for the individual stay tuned for our post on June 30thby guest blogger Stephanie Siebel) consider these steps to adapt to these changes in order to stay competitive in the war on talent and on the war for your bottom line:

1. Assess your “workflex” against peers in your industry. To do this, visit whenworkworks.org/workflex-assessment. Not all industries are created equal when it comes to tapping into these trends. For example, many of our manufacturing clients can’t tell an employee to go make a machine run to produce a “widget” from their couch- one day maybe- but you need to consider how you compare with your industry peers when considering how, where and who gets work done. Are you behind the times?

2. Shift your paradigm of thinking by analyzing what is really necessary to get work done at a high quality. Make a list of all the things that are absolutely necessary to meet customer or client needs. You’ll find that often a permanent physical location, an employee that works only for you all the time and/or specific hours they work, all of which can eat up a substantial amount of capital, isn’t needed. Are you stuck in the way things have always been?

3. Analyze changes to the way work is structured from a cost/benefit perspective.  You’re paying an employee how much in benefits? Do they value those benefits, do they need them? Would they prefer to have the flexibility to work from home helping to better meet their family needs because their spouse has the benefits their family needs? This is an individual cost/benefit example, but the cost/benefits can be weighed on a larger, corporate scale in terms of real financial costs. Do your research and present the facts. The whenworkworks.org website can help with this.

4. Make changes gradually. Try out a contract arrangement with certain duties you think would cater to that type of arrangement. Experiment with your office hours to see if you need to be open from the typically 8 am- 5 pm hoursImplement and assess knowing that all changes don’t have be set in stone and can be implemented gradually.

What is one step you can take today to make your “workplace” more flexible?

Like this post? You may also like:

I may have adult ADD but I wouldn’t trade it for anything: Refusing to choose between work and life

The Best Way to Thank Employees is to Make it Personal

Flexibility to Reduce Workplace Stressors

Mary Ila Ward

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