Man and woman sitting at workstations space in an office.

In this whitepaper:

Distributed work is not a binary, one size fits all strategy; it includes a range of work options. Allsteel has established a reliable approach to defining and designing a distributed work strategy that will effectively support  your organization’s work processes, people, and culture.

What you will learn:

  • How to define and quantify distributed work for your organization
  • Three key questions to consider when developing and implementing a distributed work program 
  • The people, technology, and place considerations associated with  distributed work
  • Actions to avoid when implementing a distributed work program

How does distributed work factor into an organization’s real estate or workplace strategy within the context of increasingly collaborative work processes, an emphasis on positive workplace experiences, and new definitions of engagement and productivity? And how has this been impacted by COVID? It all starts by assessing what has worked since March 2020 and how that may be adapted into a long term distributed work program.

So, what do we mean by ‘distributed work’?

Distributed work has been part of workplace strategy for years; simply put it is a program that supports employees working at locations outside the office. Many organizations have adopted it in one form or another; many more never considered it viable for their culture, business goals, or work processes. Or to put it another way, organization’s leadership weren’t comfortable with employees working ‘where they couldn’t be seen’, so they didn’t allow it to happen. At least not officially. Of course, COVID-19 changed all that.

When technology advances first enabled distributed work in the 1990s, many organizations seized the opportunity to send workers home, viewing this primarily as a way to reduce real estate costs. Today, we know that in order to be effective, a distributed work strategy must provide balanced support for effective work, an organization’s culture and business goals, as well as making the workplace  inherently more effective and efficient. COVID has not changed this.

While defining and implementing a distributed work program typically takes 8 – 12 month, COVID forced organizations to implement distributed work literally overnight. Today, many organizations realize that distributed work may be a viable long term option for at least a portion of their workforce – large tech companies like Facebook and Salesforce.com, who have traditionally worked under the premise that having their employees work 100% of the time in the office is integral to their innovation and success, are now planning for a major part of their workforce to be working outside the office full time.

So, where was everyone before COVID? And where did they go during COVID?

Well before COVID-19 appeared, occupancy and utilization studies completed over the years by multiple organizations and their workplace consultants have consistently found that knowledge workers are at their desk an average of 35-45% of the time. These findings clearly indicate that work is no longer happening primarily at in the office or at one’s desk.

So, where was everyone? Technology gives users the ability to choose where they work – and often it’s not at their desk. It’s the huddle room, the scrum space, or the café. Or they choose to work outside the office – at a client site, a co-working space, or at home. Regardless of where they are getting their work done, their organization will need to ‘formalize’ what is currently taking place and ensure their employees have the right tools, resources, knowledge, and skills to be fully engaged and effective at their jobs regardless of the place they work.

This changed significantly in March 2020. The Workplace Evolutionaries’ Work from Home Experience Survey found that since organizations began addressing the health concerns related to COVID, 88% of the US workforce was regularly working outside the office each week, and that 77% of the US workforce was working from home 5 days per week.

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Published On: September 14, 2022
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