Workplace Mobility: The Rise of the Third Space

If you are committed to exploring options for workplace mobility, then you should check out an organization called New Ways of Working (NewWOW). This organization, a consortium that focuses on alternative workplace solutions, has just released a benchmarking study based on data from July 2013 that sheds light on what is happening in the private sector with respect to the adoption of workplace mobility programs. Their survey looked at strategies used by 169 different organizations, about a third of which were architecture and design firms, with the rest including professional services, banking and technology companies. While this study doesn’t focus on Federal organizations, it does provides insights into where the private sector is going with respect to space design and use, insights that can help Federal agencies think about the continued development of their own mobility programs. Their findings include:

  • Growing use of “third spaces” – coffee shops, client locations, public spaces – as workplaces for staff looking for flexible work environments
  • Consistency in the percentage of assigned space within offices, but increases in the number of people who define themselves as internally mobile (working in non-assigned, changing locations in the office) and externally mobile (working outside the office)
  • Decline in the identification of cost reduction as the primary driver of mobility programs, and an increased emphasis on the identification of such people issues as work-life balance, employee productivity, and improved ability to recruit and retain staff as significant drivers
  • Increase in the use of tools to track where employees work, “work-style tracking,” to enable organizations to gain a greater understanding of the impact of mobility programs

The study provides additional evidence that the ties that have bound employees to their cubicles are loosening, and that this is happening despite a decreased emphasis on cost savings. While cost reduction can be an important driver – and a way to convince executives to move forward – it is after all the benefits to employees matter most. A new generation of workers is looking for flexibility in the where, when, and how of their work. This study provides additional evidence that a “third way approach,” at home, in the office, or wherever, is the way of the future.

To check out the website for this organization, go to: http://www.newwow.net/

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