Is The Traditional Office Dying?

Is the traditional office dying

In the past few decades, the office workplace was most often associated with a traditional style office. But with the advancement of technology that makes working simple and easy from anywhere, not just the office, the idea of the workplace is beginning to change in more ways than one.

To look further into this, Leitz have released a white paper that focuses on the idea of ‘Working Everywhere‘. This sturdy surveyed around 800 workers across Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, giving an excellent representation on modern European attitudes and behaviour to the working place.

The Office is King?

While technology advancement means that work can be undertaken almost anywhere, the Leitz study found that over ½ of those surveyed reported that they did 80% of their work in their company’s office. Almost ¼ do all of their work there. This signifies that a main office building is still an important part of the work life, providing a stable base of operations for most workers.

Evolution of technology

The advancement of technology is slowly changing the office

A Dell study undertaken in 2014, The Evolving Workforce, found that 70% of those surveyed found that they do their best work while in the office. When looking at the UK individually in this survey, 65% said their best work happens in the office, compared to only 14% who said they do their best work at home. This shows that there is still a need and a want for the traditional office.

Indeed, ¾ of UK workers believed that the office would continue to exist in their lifetime, versus a global average of 69%. There was still proof that many in the UK believe that working from home is less productive than working from an office, with a ratio of 2 to 1 in favour of the office, proving that the office is still reigning king.

Working From Anywhere

Despite this want of a traditional office to be based in, there is a growing popularity to work from outside the office. As said before, this is due to the rise in available technology and one of the pioneers of this technology is the smart phone. The ability to be able to do almost everything you need on one device cannot be ignored; smart phones allow for calling, emailing, texting, instant messaging and are easy to use.

This is reflected by the Leitz survey that shows that smart phone ownership across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK stands at around 70%. The ability to use your phone for work is further encouraged by the prevalence of Wi-Fi, which is easily available.

A survey by Rotten WiFi found that the UK placed 6th on for best public Wi-Fi in 2015 with an average download speed of 11.7Mbps. The top 5 countries were Lithuania, Estonia, Singapore, Switzerland and The Netherlands. This quick download speed means that employees can work on the go with relative ease, without having to rely on the traditional wired internet connection often found in offices.

The Changing Office Space

The other aspect of the ‘death’ of the traditional office is that the office space itself is changing. Often, offices are found to be getting smaller due to employees being more likely to move around. The Leitz survey found that most people were happy with the allocation of space, but only 60% rated it good.

Today, office plans are most often found in two forms – the open floor and cubicles. Both have advantages, and both have disadvantages. Cubicles are considered to depersonalise people and also create a sense of isolation from other employees. Open floor plans can be loud and often result in a complete lack of privacy.

Accessible WiFi

Accessible WiFi makes working away from the office easier

On the other hand, open floor plans allow for employees to socialise with ease and can create a more pleasant working environment. Cubicles also provide a sense of privacy, allowing them to focus on themselves and their work.

However, office noise is often found to be one of the main reasons that people find they cannot concentrate on their work. This is counter-acted with the use of headphones today, but the Leitz survey found that 25% of people found this to be acceptable where they work.

The slow but steady rise of working from outside the office can also be seen to be influenced by these every day office irritants. 35% of the Leitz survey said that they would prefer to spend more time working outside the office as they felt it would allow them to deliver better results.

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Sarah Jubb

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