Alternate Workplace Strategies Increasingly Adopted

November 3, 2011 ( - In the past five years, alternative workplace (AW) practices have escalated, a new study finds.

Forty-five percent of study respondents reported that they had started their AW programs within the past two years, and 80% within the past five years. In the study, the percentage of employees using AW averaged about 21%.   

New Ways of Working said survey participants identified the recession of 2008-2009 as a significant impetus for AW adoption. While some companies reported that the current economy delayed (7%) or reduced (6%) their AW programs, many expanded their programs (40%). Almost half (47%) reported no impact.   

Respondents reported using a variety of workplaces. These included offsite locations such as home-based workplaces (89%); on-site flexible or unassigned drop-in spaces (82%); non-company offices such as client sites (37%); and satellite offices (drop-in spaces on the employee side of the commute) (35%).   

Analyzing the data, those with formal programs, supporting policies, tools, and technologies in place tended to use each type of alternative workplace, while companies with ad-hoc practices tended to use only home-based (89.5%) and on-site/flexible/drop-in spaces (79%). Compared to 2008 findings, home-based work usage increased (78% to 89%) and all other types of alternative workplace uses decreased.   

One third of the companies surveyed did not track the distribution of how their employees use alternative workplaces. In addition, almost half did not track participants of AW programs by function, department, or business unit.   

Twenty-nine percent of large companies reported executive sponsorship for their AW programs.   

In this year’s study, organizations measured success with hard numbers, reflecting the change in business drivers. Topping the list were footprint reduction and cost reduction. These preceded “soft” measurements such as employee satisfaction and employee engagement. Organizations with formal programs in place measured footprint reduction, cost reduction, and employee satisfaction (ranked as top 3).   

About a third of companies measure employee productivity as a measure of AW success. The most often used are employee satisfaction with workplace and systems, and management appraisal of achievement of performance targets, followed by employee self-appraisal of productivity. Direct measurements of worker productivity, such as measuring improved work processes, practices and behaviors and meeting budgets and schedules, are used less frequently.   

Alternative Workplace Strategies in the Current Economy: A 2009 Global Benchmarking Study by New Ways of Working is based on a global survey of 103 organizations including Fortune 100 companies, representing over 4.5 million employees.  

The report can be downloaded from