Employees prefer free range

Chas Moloney, Ricoh
Chas Moloney, Ricoh Ireland & UK

Employers should consider downsizing their offices as remote working becomes the norm, says Billy MacInnes

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2 August 2019 | 0

Does it make sense for people with shares to shift their portfolios out of office property and start investing in cafes and trendy watering holes instead? What a silly question, you might retort. And you’d be right, it is a silly question but there might be some substance to it if a survey of 150 office workers in Ireland and their future working preferences proves to be true.

The poll, conducted for Ricoh by Coleman Parkes Research, found 42% thought a physical office would be unnecessary in the next five to 10 years and 60% believed they would soon be able to work effectively from any location.

Chas Moloney, director of Ricoh for Ireland and the UK (pictured), said the findings showed “Irish office workers see the concept of the traditional workplace as a thing of the past. Employees no longer want to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. Instead, people want to use their time wisely and work smarter, wherever they are.”

On the one hand, this is a great vote of confidence in the IT industry’s ability to provide the flexibility that many workers, especially younger ones, have come to expect. In fact, Moloney suggested their use of technology has given them the appetite to demand more flexibility in their working environment.

“The youngest generations in the workforce have grown up with technology and want more fluidity in their roles,” he said. “The workplace needs to adapt to this and accommodate everyone.”

But the poll does suggest that those who make a living out of providing office space might have things a bit tougher in the future if companies find themselves employing more and more workers who don’t want to work from offices. While working from home is sure to prove a popular option, the likelihood is that many are also going to be doing some of their work from coffee shops and slightly pretentious eateries.

There’s a benefit here for many companies who might feel compelled to take on office space in Dublin where the costs can be extremely high. In the future, they may be able to get away with much reduced space or possibly none at all.

As for IT companies, it’s not completely reassuring for them either because if people are confident about the technology’s ability, it turns it into more of a commodity or utility, making it harder for providers to differentiate themselves. Still, at least people are using the technology. In a few years time, it might not as easy to say the same about office space.

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