Every entrepreneur should realize how expensive office space is. In Poland, private sector spending on office space runs into millions of zlotys a year. Are offices necessary for us, or is it an unnecessary cost incurred to emphasize prestige? What do offices provide and do we need them at all?
The development of communications technology has significantly shrunk the world. Contacting people from the United States, Japan, China or Brazil has never been so easy or cheap. Offices don’t bring happiness to anyone – getting up early every day, disappearing hours spent in traffic jams or overcrowded streetcars, not to mention spoiled family relationships by working late hours. Some of you will surely say that offices are necessary for people to work in comfort, but are you sure?
Efficiency, and working remotely
Ask yourself, where do you work best? At home, in a coffee shop, in a library, or in a park? Most people will certainly list any of these places. Rare seem to be those who will list an office in this enumeration. When finishing an urgent project, we are quicker to decide to work late or appear in the magical office space before our co-workers. Then, free from distractions, constant inquiries and other interruptions unrelated to our task, we can focus on working quietly. The nightmare of everyday life, cursed by millions of people around the world, may soon disappear from our list of problems.
Remote work may prove to be a panacea for the hardships of corporate life. There is currently a huge discussion about reducing emissions, which translates into ideas about reducing car traffic in cities. Imagine your city in which 80% of cars disappear. Only one in five vehicles remains on the streets. The city becomes cleaner, safer and quieter. Budgetary expenses, related to keeping the roads in “good” condition, are reduced. This is what the city would look like if most of us worked remotely.
Benefits, and working remotely
The elimination of the biggest pain of cities is a nice addition to the improvement of the financial situation of each of us workers. If we travel to work by car while living in the suburbs, the monthly budget spent on fuel is about PLN 800. Getting rid of the car translates into an annual savings of PLN 9,600 – the perfect amount for a vacation for a family of 4. In addition to significant financial savings, we will gain additional time – 2h a day dedicated to family, friends or life’s passion, instead of standing in traffic jams. This dream may soon become a reality!
It’s not just the state of the personal budget that will improve. IBM has reduced office space by 7.25 million square meters since 1995 thanks to its remote work strategy. 5.39 million square meters were sold for $1.9 billion, while the rest of the space was subleased with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion. IBM currently employs about 386,000 people, 40% of whom regularly work outside the office. Annual savings from remote work amount to about $100 million in the US and about the same in Europe.
If it doesn’t suit anyone to work in an office, why does it still exist? The fault definitely lies with today’s perception of the role of management in business and, so to speak, the over-emphasis on form over content present in companies. Looking to the future, the concept of the office will disappear thanks to the development of technology, our lives will be more valuable, and people will wonder – why did they need offices at all.