More Mobile Workers Choosing to Come to the Office

October 28, 2011 ( - Technology and alternative work strategies free people to work anywhere; however, a new study finds the majority of employees are still choosing to work in the office.  

The study, which was released by Steelcase in partnership with CoreNet Global, found 86% of companies now offer alternative work strategies such as home offices, hoteling (shared workspaces that can be reserved), and mobile work (consistently using multiple places to work virtually). This number is up from 50% in 2009. An additional 16% of respondents said they plan to implement an alternative work strategy this year.

Organizations reported using alternative work strategies to help employees improve work-life balance (49%) and to save on real estate costs (31%).

But despite the trend toward increasing mobility, nearly 50% of all organizations reported they have 10% or less of their employees regularly working remotely. Just 3% have half or more of their employees utilizing alternative workplace strategies.

Even with a range of options, what’s attracting workers to the office when they can choose to work anywhere? According to the study, people and technology. Seventy-two percent of respondents said the office is the best place to interact with colleagues, and 40% said the office provides access to much needed tools and technology.

As one survey participant reported, “I need to maintain strong links with my staff, and the best way to do that is to see them face-to-face. It’s in our culture to work collaboratively.” 

“The world is more interconnected and interdependent than ever, which makes work more complex and fast-paced. Businesses are addressing competitive pressures by using new technologies and mobility strategies to support diverse ways of working. Yet, workers are coming to the workplace because they need spaces that enhance collaboration with teammates, who are often distributed around the world. They also need to be supported physically, and cognitively, and to feel a sense of belonging and connection to the organization’s culture,” said Jim Keane, President of Steelcase, in a press release.

Organizations continue to rethink their real estate strategies to gain efficiencies and improve effectiveness. For most organizations, net usable space per employee now ranges from 150 to 225 square-feet, and nearly 55% of respondents plan to cut their current real estate portfolio by up to 10% this year alone. That number is up from 47% in 2009.

Businesses aren't just shrinking—they're repurposing. Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported using their real estate savings to reconfigure team spaces and 41% reported accommodating alternative work settings such as cafes that provide the access to people and technology that workers want.

"Everyone wants to do more with less space, and at the same time employers are realizing the benefits of giving employees more choice and control over where they work. They want a range of spaces, depending on what kind of work they need to do. By revitalizing existing spaces or investing in new spaces, it's possible to achieve more real estate efficiency and create a variety of spaces that allow workers to be their most effective throughout the day." said Melissa Securda, Director of Knowledge and Research, CoreNet Global.

The Steelcase/CoreNet survey was launched in March of 2011 and included respondents from a range of industries throughout North America and Europe.