The megalithic corporate headquarters which deforms the city skyline could be a thing of the past if a technology trend toward remote working continues.
In a research report into the 21st-century workforce, analyst house Quocirca predicted: "In the future it may make sense for businesses to have more numerous small locations near to centres of population, to reduce commuting and be closer to customers. Businesses that do this will rely increasingly on electronic collaboration technology to keep employees in communication with each other."
While most businesses are still based on a traditional headquarters-plus-branch-offices structure, remote working is now commonplace; according to the research, around 70 percent of enterprises polled said at least a quarter of their staff work remotely at some point during the working week.
Pressure to shrink carbon footprints and attract and retain talented staff could see workforces becoming more distributed, said Quocirca.
The report states: "In the future, carbon taxes may drive businesses to open smaller locations, relying on technology for collaboration between workers and reducing the distance that both employees and customers have to travel."
The research shows that, once a business develops a culture of remote working the level of service experienced by remote workers becomes increasingly important to it, or, as Quocirca analyst and report author Bob Tarzey explained, distributed working becomes "a fundamental part of what they do".
Laptops are currently the most embedded devices in distributed business practices, said Tarzey, since they have been around for longest, but he said he expects to see that change as more and more business processes are enabled on mobile devices such as smartphones.
The Quocirca research was commissioned by Riverbed Technology.
A separate survey of UK and North American IT chiefs, conducted by network security company AEP Networks, has found that 94 percent either already allow or plan to allow network access to remote workers.