A resource management software provider teamed up with an experienced market analysis and research firm. Their goal was to find out how American corporations are using technology to control their operating costs. Building space, operating costs from lighting to HVAC, conference room needs--all are crucial parts of the overhead needed to keep office workers working. I talked with both firms involved in this newest study of workplace trends in America. I spoke with PeopleCube's CEO, John Anderson, and a spokesman from Nucleus Research.
Anderson spoke with me from PeopleCube's HQ in Framingham, Mass. And he repeatedly pointed out how PeopleCube's moving into the future along with their customers. PeopleCube's software enables office managers to assess how many desks, conference rooms, computers, work stations are needed. How much floor space? How to provide the needed support to enable more workers to telecommute? Anderson sees in the open workplace an inveitable replacement for the old one-desk-one-worker model that requires so much unused space and wasted energy and building costs. It is buildings, construction and operation, that eat up over half of ALL ENERGY USED IN AMERICA. If the workplace and the average living space coalesce and building use becomes more efficient that can save more energy than putting everybody in America onto bicycles or electric scooters. And a lot more practical. Of course, this increasing efficiency is not good news for those who make their living building new office towers.
In addition to the obvious ROI on using less office space and providing fewer unneeded desks, Anderson pointed to two factors that major US corporations are just beginning to recognize: First, retention of younger workers increases with the employer's application of flex time scheds and support of telecommuting. Second, the current generation of senior managers are having to do their own attitude check. An employee at home rather than at a desk down the corridor is often more productive. Unwatched is not unplugged.
Anderson used an example from his own company, an employee who works at her home far from Framingham. She leaves home every afternoon to pick up her school-age children. On the other hand she's often emailing and making business calls to other time zones long after "normal" business hours. Telecommuting and flex scheds in action. And the PeopleCube employee apppreciates the lack of clocking in and clocking out, making her less likely to take her expertise and jump ship. And not being an average commuter, she drives about 250 miles less per week. BOTH THE EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE THUS ARE SAVING ON EVERGY COSTS. And much less time wasted on the highway going to and fro.
Anderson said it's clear not all employees can or should work at home. Some need the co-operative atmosphere of an office, the comrades and the contact. Many others do not. He cited a recent employment survey that found the top two concerns of many workers: 1) salary, 2) flex-time or telecommuting. NUCLEUS INSIGHTS
Nucleus went to a variety of American corporations in several economic sectors. The PeopleSoft apps allow companies to finally aggregate the info they need to maximize the use of the necessary space, and jettison what they don't really use. Conference space? Catering needs? Parking? In the past this operational and resource information was often spread around the company and work flow questions were often answered with guesstimates.
Nucleus found the move to telecommuting is going faster with large corporations that have numerous employees doing similar work. That makes centralized support for telecommuting easier to maintain. Nucleus pointed out that an initial worry among workers when confronted with telecommuting: when I do go to the office will I have a place to work? Will my laptop just plug into the network? Will I not face two hours of delay in getting to my email? Space protection at the office is an oft-cited worry among workers reluctant to tele-commute. Efficient space control and strong support services are two factors that make telecommuting work for boss and worker alike.