What effect does teleworking have on office productivity?

by Elizabeth Dukes on November 6, 2013

Traditionally, one of the most challenging aspects of a facilities manager’s job has been figuring out how to manage space. With only a finite amount of rooms in an office building, an FM always has to show some creativity in order to configure every employee and every desk optimally. There are a number of questions that need answering:

  • Who sits where?
  • How do different departments collaborate with one another?
  • How do companies handle logistics when it’s time to redesign their offices or relocate altogether?

These questions are difficult ones, and companies often spend large amounts of time and money answering them. Luckily, though, there’s good news on the horizon – with remote workers becoming more prominent in today’s workplace, it’s now looking like companies won’t have to place quite as high a premium on office space.

Square footage will still be a concern, to be sure. But thanks to the rise of modern technology, it’s now more realistic for employees to embrace teleworking, which should ease the burden on facilities managers to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of their offices.

According to Fierce Mobile Government, it’s not uncommon these days for workers to be remote a large portion of the time without sacrificing productivity. For offices that rely on telework to get by from day to day, there are three important priorities to keep in mind.

Maintain Productivity

Companies often see a rise in productivity when they let their workers check into the office remotely, either from home or on the road. Some employees find it easier to work without distraction from co-workers, and some enjoy the benefits of using their own personal computers for work tasks.

That doesn’t mean enhanced productivity is a guarantee. There’s also the risk of employees getting distracted, perhaps watching TV or napping when they’re supposed to be working. Making sure people stay focused should be a priority. Bob Landis, chief of civilian requirements at the U.S. Defense Department, said that managers should stick with teleworking even if they don’t see a noticeable uptick in productivity right away.

“You may not see a tangible increase in productivity, but the intangible is what you see with work-life balance and increases in morale,” Landis told Fierce Mobile.

Ensure Collaboration

Even if employees aren’t in the same office together, it’s important to make sure they keep working together to complete key tasks. Luckily, with the proliferation of mobile apps and cloud storage apps out there today, it’s easy for people to stay connected and work together from anywhere. Facilities managers can make sure that inside the office or out, their employees still have the right tools.

Rory Shultz, deputy chief information officer at the National Institutes of Health, says that technology is keeping workers connected regardless of their locations.

“Any technology that promotes collaboration is going to promote it whether you’re in the office or teleworking,” Shultz said.

Serve Customers

At the end of the day, a business’ job is to serve its customers, and that remains the case whether employees are in the office or not. Facilities managers should make sure that when stationed remotely, workers are still able to deliver the same results to consumers.

Often, that’s not a problem. People tend not to worry about the physical location of their clients, provided that work ultimately gets done. National Institutes of Health Associate Director for Administration Daniel Dupuis confirmed this, according to Fierce Mobile.

“Most of the time, our customers aren’t aware where employees are working, which is good because it means employees are getting the job done,” Dupuis said.

Remote work has changed the concept of the office as we know it. That doesn’t mean employees should be any less productive. Thanks to the evolution of technology and the quick-thinking nature of today’s facilities managers, they won’t be.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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