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Commutes gone? Welcome to the “Oculus Office”

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Fifty years ago, business was done almost exclusively via face-to-face meetings (supplemented by landlines and the postal service). Today, we harness the ability to send massive amounts of information across the globe within seconds. And, tomorrow, we’ll be more likely to sit at virtual conference tables than real ones. We are a society that may be headed into an era of the “Oculus Office.”

 

And yet, the freedom to telecommute isn’t necessarily costing businesses productivity. In fact, a recent study conducted by Microsoft notes just the opposite:

 

“Sixty percent of respondents to the Microsoft Telework survey — conducted among 3,600 employees in 36 cities nationwide — say they are actually more productive and efficient when working remotely. With less time spent commuting and fewer cubicle ‘drive bys’ causing distractions, respondents say, more time can be spent on the task in front of them.”

 

…and, as ZDNet notes, everyone seems to win with this shift—right down to the environment:

 

“Other than the convenience factor, employers and employees alike share in the lower costs that telecommuting provides. Employees who telecommute spend less money on transportation, clothes, food, and child care than their office-bound counterparts do ($2,000 to $7,000 per year). Employers benefit by not having to maintain large offices to house workers and bear all of the costs of furnishings, maintenance, parking, and phone services ($11,000 per year per employee). Ecologically speaking, telecommuting puts less stress on the environment too by having fewer vehicles on the road.”

 

With the world increasingly looking to the benefits of flexible workspaces, it comes as no surprise that design and usage of facilities is undergoing a similarly dramatic upheaval. So, what does the modern office look like?

 

To answer this question, facility managers will need to be cognizant of how usage is evolving. Key challenges will include:

 

  • Eliminating Waste: If migration from cubicles to homes does continue, businesses will want to be conscious of how much space they truly need, and whether this space can be effectively shared by a variety of workers. Cutting down on required square footage will offer potentially huge savings in rent, utilities, and maintenance.
  • Understanding Tech’s Limits: For the moment, lots of tasks are still considered more effective when done in person—things such as town hall meetings, collaborative project groups, and so forth. Simultaneously, technology can’t replace warehousing and manufacturing needs (although it can dramatically improve organization and fulfillment). Understanding the unique requirements of a company today, tomorrow, and next year will facilitate improved dialogue about how a space needs to evolve—and, as a side note, a lot of these insights can be gathered via CrowdComfort’s current app (with more on their way!).
  • Keeping People at the Forefront: It’s tempting to devalue employees’ existence when they’re no longer passing your office several times a day. As such, we’re expecting (successful) companies to proactively invest in new strategies to manage remote human resources.

 

All-in-all, we’re excited to see what the future holds for facilities (and facility management as a whole). In fact, we’ll be featuring an ongoing series on “The Office of the Future” right here over the coming months. Be sure to check back often (or subscribe here) to ensure you’re up-to-date on new posts!

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