December 19, 2011
by Canadian Architect
“The workplace of today – and the future – is changing dramatically, driven by advances in technology, a shift in work patterns and a greater desire for work-life balance and living sustainably,” said Kay Sargent, Teknion Vice President of Architecture, Design and Workplace Strategies. “The survey provides us with valuable insight into the concerns and challenges that are facing our clients. The data will enable us to better design workplaces that anticipate and address future needs.”
Survey findings indicate that, by 2015, workplace utilization is expected to increase from levels between 35% and 50% today to 85%, as the desk-to-employee ratio is addressed and space is reapportioned. Strategies that companies are employing to accomplish increased space utilization include:
77% – Open, collaborative workspaces with fewer offices
62% – Densification of workspaces
54% – Reduce square footage footprint through disposition
46% – More employees working remotely, from home, satellite or client sites
31% – Mobile working programs including desk-sharing, hoteling or coworking spaces
“One surprise is that 77% of respondents are employing more open, collaborative workspaces with less private offices in an effort to reduce their overall space,” Sargent said. “This is a huge misconception. Companies rarely achieve a decrease in their overall square footage requirements solely by shifting from private offices to open, shared space. The overall square footage usually stays about the same because of the increase in collaborative or meeting areas. Open, collaborative spaces simply provide more options.”
The survey also revealed that 78% of the companies polled have less than 10% of their employees working from home more than one day a week, but expect that to grow by 2015.
“To achieve space reduction, companies are looking to reduce the traditional model of providing every employee with a dedicated workplace. Today, an office with 100 employees might only require desks for 80 due to mobile work programs and desk sharing. However, companies with limited mobility programs, such as allowing staff to work from home one day a week, rarely impact overall square footage because most staff still have a dedicated workspace. Unless employees are out of the office two or more days a week and give up an assigned desk, real estate is usually not affected.”
The survey also revealed the most important strategies used to attract the new generation of knowledge workers. “The number one draw according to 41% of respondents is access to flexible workplace options. Another 39% indicated that having the most leading-edge technology was the key. The shift from technology as the main consideration may result from people today being less dependent on the technology supplied by their offices as they often have better devices than those provided by their employer. Today we’re becoming a BYOT, or bring your own technology society, and companies are working to support the devices their employees are selecting.”
Of the companies surveyed, 89% reported that they plan to increase their investment in productivity-enabling technologies such as voice-activation technologies and sophisticated video conferencing by 2015 beyond current spending levels. Although cloud computing is a strategy 46% of companies are currently employing, 88% of the companies that aren’t using cloud computing said they were unsure about its future application or use.
“Today, the only thing we know will be constant is change,” Sargent concluded. “It’s inevitable so we need to embrace it. Change today is being driven by demographic shifts, economic volatility, the pursuit of sustainability – both for our buildings and for ourselves. But technology is the single largest factor fueling change in the workplace today, so understanding it is essential.”
The survey was administered by Teknion to leading US companies in collaboration with CoreNet Global, Jones Lang LaSalle and Cisco. Survey results were presented at the recent Fall 2011 CoreNet Global Summit in Atlanta.
For more information, please visit www.teknion.com.