‘…offices will face extinction…’ says new study.
According to a study, commissioned by Virgin Media Business, some 58% of the 1,000 office workers surveyed believe that, within 10 years, companies will no longer require offices in order to do business.
Other figures included over half of employees believe they will spend less time commuting and nearly two thirds believe they will need only one device to work effectively.
Of course, much of this is undoubtedly true. I have no doubt our workforce will become increasingly mobile, more companies will choose to work in the cloud, which helps with flexible working and we will certainly need less office space.
But the death of the office…?
I think not – at least not in my lifetime.
For now, there are practical considerations. For every business happy to jump into the cloud, there are others who are far more sceptical, being concerned about lack of control and security, for example.
These issues may or may not be justified, but they are certainly prevalent.
Another consideration is that we do not yet have blanket wireless and mobile coverage to enable anyone to work from anywhere, anytime. And there is alwasy the issue fo battery life.
Additionally, whether you are in the cloud or on terra firma, the infrastructure to enable mobile working is more expensive and complex than most people imagine.
What about what we want?
However, let us assume that all these problems will fade or be overcome. There is still the issue of human psychology and how we like to work.
There seems to be a view that, because mobile and flexible working are possible, everyone will want to do it. Well, I for one, do not agree.
Many people love working from home or on the move: it gives them excitement, new challenges, flexibility, improves their productivity and suits their family life and personality.
And many people don’t.
Some people (and I confess, I am one) do not like the isolation, the lack of contact, and miss the buzz of a working environment. Some find they need the discipline of regular hours and a set place to go. Some, perhaps with young families, would find it far too distracting to work at home.
Even if it is mostly used as a temporary or part time hub, there will always be a need for some businesses to have office space.
Is the office dead?
Well, I don’t think so. Will our need for office space decrease? I am certain it will. Do we need to provide more choice in the way people work? Yes, absolutely.
I am sure that offices and how we use them will change. They may not contain the whole workforce, there will be more hot-desks and movement of employees. Workers will dip in and out. Software and files will be held centrally in more companies – either on site or in the cloud. And this will be true for all businesses, large or small.
So, we can’t write off the office just yet. Quite apart from being my livelihood, it can be a great place to work, engage and learn.