Full-time, in-office employment is on its way out, and the organizations at the forefront of business innovation are driving the stake into its heart. The stereotype of the dressed-up office worker who spends their days in a cubicle farm is becoming increasingly outdated.
Tiny Yet Mighty
According to Scoop’s insightful Q3 Flex Index research, virtual offices are becoming increasingly popular, especially among smaller businesses. Seventy-six percent of small businesses with fewer than 500 employees now allow some form of remote work or support it fully.
And it’s not limited to the tech industry alone. When businesses with fewer than 500 employees are considered, 59% have adopted some form of remote or flexible work.
These numbers show a dramatic change in the mindset of today’s most innovative and disruptive small enterprises in comparison to the sluggish behemoths of the corporate world. The agile companies of today, with only hundreds of employees, are primed to become the next Amazons and Googles.
Consider a few instances. Fintech upstarts like Stripe and Chime have expanded rapidly because of their flexible policies towards remote employees. In addition, Warby Parker’s bendable frame revolutionized the eyeglass market.
The most creative minds know that strict workplace regulations waste money, reduce flexibility, and drive away the best and brightest. Small businesses can compete effectively with larger competitors by providing remote work options.
These startups hire hundreds, then thousands of employees, and along the way they develop a culture of adaptability. The data shows that traditional 9-to-5 office jobs are on their way out, with the most innovative and successful startups driving a stake through their hearts.
The Cold, Hard Numbers
The Q3 Flex Index data shows clearly how remote work at these little but big enterprises is on the rise, and it offers a glimpse into the future of business:
- 93% of startups established after 2010 allow employees to choose their own workplace.
- 85% of non-tech companies founded after 2010 provide some degree of adaptability.
- 76% of businesses with fewer than 500 employees are completely adaptable.
Contrast that with the 39% of all enterprises that require full-time in-office work at the present time. The chasm is huge, and it foreshadows the impending upheaval as the most innovative companies of today disrupt entire industries.
The survey predicts that during the next 10–15 years, just 15% of businesses will require full-time office jobs. Companies that are flexible and supportive of remote workers have grown rapidly in recent years, leaving behind the dinosaurs.
Flexibility Is Not Limited to the Tech Sector
Some may say this change is isolated to the tech sector. However, the evidence contradicts such analysis.
Most tech organizations (97% as of 2015) do indeed permit remote work. However, other sectors are quickly catching up:
- Media & Entertainment: 91% offer flexibility
- Insurance: 89%
- Professional Services: 85%
- Financial Services: 83%
It’s abundantly clear that remote work is now a cultural as well as technological reality. The advantages are well known to the pioneering entrepreneurs in all industries. Workplace flexibility encourages creativity and productivity.
What Does This Mean for Big Companies?
The data is frightening for conventional, slow-moving businesses. Today’s scrappy firms that embrace remote and part-time staffing have a great shot at future industry dominance.
Amazon has caused a stir in several industries, including retail, search, social media, and even the auto industry with the Tesla. In ten years, today’s tiny businesses will be the major disruptors, and they will have remote or flexible work built into their culture from the ground up.
Traditional businesses that demand constant on-site employee presence will have to make a decision. change to stay competitive with adaptable opponents for top talent? Or see their top talent defect to other, more progressive organizations.
Some old-school managers might appreciate the fact that we refuse to let go of the concept of face-to-face meetings. But the numbers reveal that this strategy will be the undoing of once-mighty businesses.
No Turning Back
Even after long breaks like Labor Day, some experts insist that a flood of workers will be summoned back to the office. But it hasn’t happened in recent years for whatever reason. There has been almost little change in office occupancy rates.
Why? First, there is no mistaking what the staff wants. According to surveys, they prefer to spend no more than two days a week at the office. And modern startups, which provide the adaptability to draw in talent and keep expenses down, are in sync with these desires.
Also, the average company only wants workers there 2.5 days a week, which isn’t too far off from the 2-day workweek preferred by employees. If you require more than that, you risk losing good people to more flexible competitors.
This middle ground of a couple of partially in-office days per week suits both employee preferences and employer requirements. With no big change being pushed for, the flexible work revolution will continue to be spearheaded by tomorrow’s PayPals, Ubers, and Airbnbs.
The Commercial Real Estate Market Is in for a Shock
These tendencies bode ill for an industry dependent on congested workplaces.
Large firms’ adoption of a hybrid strategy does support demand, but only to about 50% of pre-epidemic levels. However, many startups and other types of innovative businesses are doing away with physical offices in favor of virtual ones.
This double whammy of partly office labor and full remote flexibility threatens traditional commercial real estate organizations. There is no indication that occupancy rates will increase.
It’s only the beginning of the flexible work revolution. New companies will emerge and challenge the status quo of the old guard that is stuck in its ways.
Expect fewer than 15% of companies to require full-time office work within 10 to 15 years. This is a horrifying prospect for property connected to crowded offices.
Embrace the Future
The numbers plainly indicate the future of the labor market. The firms that will shape the future are the ones who are adopting flexible work arrangements to compete for talent and maintain agility.
There are still industries that demand on-site work, such as manufacturing and healthcare, but any desk job duty can be fulfilled with a combination of in-office and remote or totally virtual work. Flexibility for administrative workers is possible in many industries, including manufacturing and healthcare.
It’s time for everyone involved, from business owners and workers to commercial real estate investors, to acknowledge that the traditional 9-to-5 office job is on its way out. Businesses that can adapt to changing conditions will prosper.
Those who can’t change with the times will eventually be left in the dust.