The CMS Real Estate Report 2017 found that the overwhelming majority (87%) of workers consider work-life balance, including agile working provisions, to be the most important factor overall when choosing a company to work for.

What’s more, BPS World research, discussed by HR Magazine, demonstrated that more than two thirds (67%) of businesses that have adopted agile policies have seen a significant boost in productivity. Some reported increases of up to 10%, while 10% of respondents reported a 20% rise.

So, all of this sounds like remote working is on track to be the future of work. But is it?

IBM was one of the first pioneers of agile working, with around 2,000 of the company’s staff working remotely by 1983, The Atlantic reports. By 2009, the company had reduced its office space by 78 million square feet, saved around $100m in the US, and 40% of its 386,000 global employees worked at home. But, in March this year, IBM revealed it was ending its remote working policy, and called thousands of employees back to the office.

But IBM isn’t alone. According to NBC News, companies such as Yahoo, Bank of America, and Aetna have also reduced or completely withdrawn their telecommuting policies.

So, why are businesses calling workers back to the office? Does this mark the downfall of telecommuting?

Power of collaboration

The American companies are reportedly bringing their workforce back to the workplace as they’re being won over by the benefits of working together, in-person. IBM’s CMO, Michelle Peluso, who announced the company’s decision to end telecommuting, said that “Speed, agility, creativity and true learning experiences within your team” are just some of those advantages.

And it seems that employees may also feel they are missing out on office life. Research from CyberLink and YouGov, discussed by Market Watch, found that 38% of remote workers complained about having difficulty engaging with workplace culture, while 33% had concerns about making friends, and 31% were worried about building relationships with management.There are also, of course, technical issues to consider. Of those questioned by CyberLink, 40% said they had experienced an important call dropping out, while 31% had missed or were late to a video conference as a result of tech failure.

What’s more, Business Matters magazine reported that 40% of remote workers in the UK admitted to getting distracted when working from home, often finding themselves doing household chores, chatting to family and friends, or running personal errands.

Can working from home really work in the future?

Is this really the end for telecommuting? With workers expressing such a strong desire for agile working, and businesses reporting increased productivity, telecommuting is certainly not going to go away completely. But perhaps we’ll see more stringent policies and better technology to ensure everyone can work efficiently. And, of course, it all depends on whether the company’s culture reflects such styles of working.

We think that some of the best insights and ideas come from colleague interaction at unplanned times – if you want to create an office space that fosters creativity and ideas generation, give us a call today.

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