Are 'Anywhere Offices' Really the Future?

Are 'Anywhere Offices' Really the Future?

The concept of an 'anywhere office' is not a new thing. The initiative started back in 2011 when Vodafone, Microsoft, Business in the Community and a whole host of other organisations set up the 'Anywhere Working' consortium. Their aim was to offer help and advice to companies keen to embrace flexible working for their employees and make a difference to their profits as well as the environment.

 

Government backing

The scheme gained the backing of Transport Minister, Norman Baker who said, "It’s simply not necessary for us to always trudge to and from meetings when modern technology allows you to circumnavigate the globe virtually from the comfort of your front room, local coffee shop or when you’re on the move. Understandably, it's been a move that many businesses have been nervous to take on, but Mr Baker says there are great benefits to companies who do. He explained, "Working flexibly by using video conferences, webinars or cloud computing can help increase productivity as well as employee wellbeing, not to mention dramatically reducing our carbon footprint."

A change is as good as a rest

There's no doubt that businesses are becoming much more flexible, recognising that not everyone works best sat in a swivelly chair at a desk in a busy office. That's why we're seeing workplaces being designed with a whole range of seating options. People are working in break-out areas, in the canteen, at a standing desk or even on a treadmill. And of course, going one step further, many people now work from home, their local coffee shop or even from their garden shed!

Is it the future?

Many organisations have already adopted 'anywhere working' and according to a recent report by The Work Foundation, the UK is at a tipping point where working away from the office will become more common than working solely from your desk.  In fact they say that by 2017, over half of organisations in the UK are likely to have adopted flexible working and predict that over 70% of organisations will have followed suit by 2020.

Are you going to embrace 'anywhere working'?

We suspect it may be a while before smaller companies are truly comfortable with letting their employees go 'free range' but here are some of the most obvious benefits and drawbacks:

  • A more flexible approach to working seems to have positive effects on workplace morale. If your employees know they're trusted to put in the hours at a time that works best for them, and to work in a place where they can be most productive, they'll feel more valued.
  • You may be able to reduce your overheads by renting less space. Many companies now operate a desk sharing or 'hot desk' policy where you arrive for work and just choose a place to sit. Apart from saving space, this can have the added benefit of allowing people to get to know other team members and foster an atmosphere of equality within the office.
  • When employees work from home or near to where they live, the carbon footprint of your company is reduced dramatically. As well as the obvious 'green' element, working from home can reduce travel costs and claw back time that would be wasted on the daily commute.
  • By embracing technology such as smartphones, laptops and video conferencing, it's quite possible to run a business effectively while your employees are scattered around the country. It can actually be far easier to get everyone together for a Skype or video meeting at short notice than it would be in a traditional office scenario.

   ?      An 'anywhere office' will not suit everyone. People who are less able to embrace new             technology may find it daunting being asked to use tablets, smartphones and laptops as part of         their work if they're not used to them. Think about whether these practices will alienate  your             older workers.

  ?       Some people find it hard to manage their time effectively and are easily distracted when working          at home. They may also feel isolated and miss the buzz of the office and the chance to have           human contact every day.

  ?       You need to think about whether an 'anywhere office' is suitable for all your staff. For example             will it work if your HR Manager is always working from home or if all the people who have first             aid training are never in the office?

  ?       An 'anywhere office' will certainly take a lot of managing. As a Director or Manager, it will be             essential that you maintain strong lines of communication with all your staff and keep up to date    with who's doing what and how much progress they're making.

In the future, we may not be chained to the desk day in and day out, and that's obviously a good thing if it allows us to be happier, more productive and kinder to our environment.  But when so many us are used to the structure, routine and human interaction that going into the office gives us, it's unlikely that we'll turn our backs on the traditional set up entirely.

We're always here

One thing's certain, if you need anything for your traditional office or your 'anywhere office', you can rely on us always being here to help you find exactly what you want. Take a look at our full range of office furniture and accessories at www.rainbowzebra.co.uk or call us on 0800 092 1985 and speak to one of our friendly team.

Posted by Paul Randall
14th April 2016