It has finally gotten the attention of major media. Is it soon to be more mainstream?
The April 18, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal, “Warming Up to the Officeless Office” showcases American Express, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Glaxo-SmithKline as being at the forefront of this shift of their real estate utilization.
The Benefits of bringing down the “Walls”
The explanation can be summed up as the convergence of a desired increase by Corporate America of economy, efficiency and collaboration. What eminated from a focus on saving millions in rent and energy overhead has translated into increased community and accelerated creativity among “members” as the term designated to the transient professionals in the firms. The unanticipated effects include less emailing, more face-to-face interaction in informal, spontaneous meetings resulting in more immediate decision-making and project efficiencies. When you bring down the literal walls, you also remove the symolic walls and barriers to communication and results. Things get done!
Response to trends
Many of us in the Workspace-as-a-Service industry have been observing the trend to more open work environments since at least 2007. The explosion of Coworking worldwide between 2011 and 2012 alone is nearly double, from 1,130 locations in 2011 to 2,150 as of February 2012 thanks to deskmag’s continuous industry research.
Further in the article by Rachel Emma Silverman and Robin Sidel, American Express is siting “studies” regarding average space utilization rate at 50%. We’ve heard statistics in the past 15 months siting anywhere from 60% to 70% average utilization. Contributing factors include offsite work at clients’ locations, teleworking, sick and vacation times. Calculating a loss of anywhere from 30% to 50% of productive real estate is a serious drag on any bottom line.
Accenture has embraced this model for several years. Google and Facebook specifically designed their work environments to be open, although desks are designated for the most ”permanent” or on-premise employees.
What was not acknowledged was that this is a workspace configuration preferred by Millennials, the next-generation of global workers, expecting to work whenever from wherever. So while the corporations mentioned in the article are working with existing conditions, they clearly have their eye on the horizon, which is getting closer with each college graduating class.
Coworking Going Mainstream?
More articles and information come out each month, so perhaps it is becoming less a fascination point and more mainstream. As corporations shift to more Coworking models and as hotels now get in on the act to replace the noisy cafe experience, there is a morphing of The Third Space across multiple formats. Working in isolation is out, working in community is in!