Cutbacks in Office Space Indicate a Work-from-Home Shift

In another major sign that the future of work is rapidly changing, Reuters recently reported that 25 large companies plan to reduce their office space in the year ahead.

It’s a move triggered in part by COVID-19 and the fact that many companies are now allowing more employees to work from home. It’s also designed to reduce costs since office space is the second-largest expense for corporations after payrolls.

Reductions in office space spending will go a long way to preserving profits and avoiding layoffs or other cutbacks. But this shift is also a sign of something positive that has come out of several months of economic lockdown.

According to Danny Ismail, a Green Street Advisors analyst, many companies have realized that their workers can remain productive at home. As Ismail told Reuters, “Every company just went through a mass work-from-home experience and for the majority it was mostly positive.”

Thus, while it’s common for companies to cut back on their real estate needs and costs during a typical recession, Ismail expects this year’s planned cutbacks in office space to be a permanent change.

That change will also be good news for many workers who will have an opportunity to work from home permanently. It’s also an opportunity for companies to leverage work-from-home arrangements to expand their pool of prospective employees and attract top talent.

By giving employees more freedom in how and where they work, those workers can take advantage of opportunities to live in lower-cost areas or in locations with a better quality of life. At the end of the day, they can decide where they want to live, which is a powerful benefit for recruitment.

At Graphite, we’ve seen this first-hand in our own hiring of top talent to join our sales team. By giving them an opportunity to work remotely from anywhere, we’re able to attract leading candidates from across the United States and around the world.

We also know how valuable this kind of flexibility is for the independent consultants who serve clients through our platform. Over the past five years of the Freelancing in America study, independent workers have reported that location flexibility is one of the top three attractions of freelancing.

Companies with work-from-home policies can potentially attract traditional direct employees with the same flexibility. And maybe they can even sway some independent workers to make the move back into the corporate world.

However, there are other attractions to independent work that companies can’t easily provide. Among the other top reasons for freelancing are scheduling flexibility, being one’s own boss, and choice of work.

Companies can’t necessarily deliver on all of these with a work-from-home option, which is perhaps why we continue to see big numbers of workers freelancing. But remote work can certainly help attract and retain direct employees, especially now that so many more workers have experienced this flexibility, and they’re likely to want it from their employers.

If you’re not sure if a permanent work-from-home arrangement is appropriate for certain roles and jobs, consider the fact that many of the world’s largest and most successful corporations are hiring talent remotely for crucial projects in software development, R&D, and project management.

For example, Procter & Gamble, MasterCard and AirBus are all using on-demand platforms to hire high-end talent in these areas. These are projects involving entire teams that need to collaborate and work closely together, but they’re doing it with help from freelancers and on- that often performs services remotely.

If remote work is proving highly effective and profitable for these roles and these companies, there’s little reason to doubt why a work-from-home approach can’t deliver similar benefits with other roles and direct employees.

Of course, not every role can be performed remotely. Some jobs and tasks inevitably require a physical presence. But jobs ranging from high-level strategic management and product development to finance, marketing and IT can all be performed remotely.

At Graphite, we’ve connected thousands of firms to independent consultants who perform C-level executive roles, fill key leadership positions and provide services in a wide array of disciplines and areas of expertise. And they do it all while working from a home office.

On average, our consultants earn a 4.8 rating out of 5.0 stars with glowing reviews, and you can read a number of our case studies to hear more about the outstanding results they deliver.

Just as they’ve repeatedly proven their expertise and productivity while working from home, many other workers have now had the opportunity to do the same during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It hasn’t been the best of circumstances for it to happen, but we expect it to be a positive development in the shift toward more remote work, with benefits for employers and workers alike.

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Greg Andrade

Greg Andrade handles Graphite's marketing and communication programs. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he worked in corporate marketing for 15 years before turning his focus to virtual marketing consulting for startups and global businesses.

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