Is the office dead to everyone but Yahoo?

Is the office dead to everyone but Yahoo?

Summary: The office isn't always the best place to get stuff done, according to a survey of businesses.


The number of businesses allowing staff to work from home is rising, according to a report. 

Three-quarters of businesses plan to develop a structure that will allow employees to work remotely within the next two to three years, and companies claim they can boost productivity by 44 percent when staff work from home. 

But the real benefits are more long term with 40 percent of enterprises believing employees become more engaged with their work and as a result stay at the company longer.

Ian Foddering, UK CTO of Cisco which sponsored the report, said businesses are allowing their staff to work from home because they believe it can offer a more flexible, open and productive working environment.

But not all bosses think telecommuting is a good idea. Yahoo, and more recently Best Buy, told their staff that they were putting an end to working from home. 

"The survey shows there is an increasing desire for organisations to embrace remote working," Foddering told ZDNet.

However, the Cisco report is not suggesting that remote working should completely replace going into the office. 

"I think it's supplementary and the two go hand in hand. For a lot of organisations there will be a combination of the two," said Foddering. 

"I certainly don't believe that in today's technical world that there is any need for the vast majority of organisations (where the job allows it) for people to have to come into an office every single day."

The survey was based on 500 online interviews with IT decision makers in the UK and Ireland.

Topics: IT Employment, Cloud, Collaboration, IT Priorities, Mobility, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Sheesh

    I guess to ZDNet bloggers, everything is DEAD if a minority of people say so...

    The office is dead.
    Telecommuting is dead.
    Linux is dead.
    Nokia is dead.
    BlackBerry is dead.
    Windows 8 is dead.

    Can anyone at ZDNet produce a blog or a headline that doesn't include the word, "dead"?
    • but this is zdnet's fresh news served hot!

      Oh, most managers I know of either disallow it since employees abuse it, or they remotely manage 1000s of jobs offshore... maybe that is the real reason - obfuscation...
    • You forgot one thing

      Objectivity at Zdnet is dead
  • I forgot

    The PC is dead.
  • Really ???

    "Three-quarters of businesses plan to develop a structure that will allow employees to work remotely within the next two to three years, and companies claim they can boost productivity by 44 percent when staff work from home."

    REALLY ??? On what planet? The vast majority of businesses are SMALL. They don't have the structure to have people all over the county. They need people IN HOUSE to do things like help a fellow employee with a software quirk, fix a jammed printer, receive mail, receive shipments of inventory or other items, go to the store to pick stuff up, and all sorts of things that require PHYSICAL PRESENCE in the workplace. They rely on PERSONAL INTERACTION of employees, managers and customers for their business to function.
    • percentages are from quoting from survey

      Rick I suggest you read the linked to survey. They quote not just "enterprise" numbers but SME numbers. Now your average mom and pop business is not included probably (but being a mom and pop business if run from their home don't they already sort of telecommute?) because they don't fit the definition of Enterprise and likely the people interviewed were biased toward Cisco users, I can't find in the report any indication of how they decided to sample for their survey. It was UK based and so may not be the same where you liver but the trend will be the same unless there is some overwhelming cultural over-ride.
      Of course I don't have access to the raw data and so I don't know what spin Cisco is putting on it and how selective their process is for large vs. small business.
  • for most of us

    There is no reason to go to the office every single day. some days yes, every day no. Go to the office stay there all day then go home and oh yea work some more. really really you can not burn the oil at both ends and if you need us to work even after hours you have to give us some flex to work from home to take real breaks(not eating at our desk while working and project and on a conf call) and meaningful vacations. giving someone 3% raise and fake bonus of a few thousands just don't cut it(most of that goes in taxes not to you).
  • The office is necessary

    Much work can only be performed in a central location. But not all.
    John L. Ries
  • The Premise is Clear

    Anyone who has read "The Innovators Dilemma" can see that this is the natural evolution of the business model. As our capitalist society seeks to cut overhead and increase efficiency everything becomes less centralized. We go from working at big corporations, to working at SMB, to working from home. Innovations go from being developed in house at large corporation, to SMB's, to some teenager at his house working with MIT students virtually, i.e. Summly.

    The thing that we should worry about most of all though is when most of the work is done virtually will they have you do it or someone offshore. If the work can be done anywhere it will move to the cheapest country that offers a service that is "good enough", barring any regulatory barriers that are enacted. To really succeed in a country like the United States we will need to create disruptive companies and likely get acquired by a larger corporation or push the incumbent corporation up market, and eventually into bankruptcy. Labor costs are not competitive enough here vs 3rd World Countries to justify a virtual workforce, at least for a while. When the other innovative countries surpass our economy on a per capita basis maybe the tide will shift back, but that will likely take several centuries.

    Another possibility is that we become much more mobile than we currently are and move to other countries at younger ages in order to secure employment opportunities. There are the language barriers that might impede such a shift and standard of living arguments but I think the decreasing employment prospects might force people to make significant concessions on standard of living and language barriers. A standard language might emerge in order for this to become a reality as well. Much of the world as adopted english, so that may turnout to be the standard, Mandarin could also emerge as the Chinese economy becomes the largest economy.