In my senior year of high school, my goal that I declared publicly in economics class was: “to own and operate my own advertising agency”. I wanted to build it. I had a dream of having a fancy office (you know, the kind where you get awards for having a “cool” office), working with national big named brands, and having a stellar award winning team. I was already interning in the afternoons at Clarke Advertising, which later merged into Eric & Mower, then merged out.
When we started Gobble Logic in 2012, we briefly romanticized about having a brick and mortar office in either downtown Tampa or Ybor City. However as we started building our team and theorized about how people will be working in the future–we realized that having a physical office is neither economical, practical, nor is it even productive for the average office worker. These are the greater reasons why we don’t have an office:
1. Traffic congestion and concerns reduced
If you live in any metropolis, you’ll at some point during the course of any given year, hear about the traffic problems. An hour and a half commute they say. Huge problem, must fix it, they say. Build more roads (muh roads!) or mass transit, they say. You know what people aren’t saying? No one (to my knowledge) has even suggested to change how the work day functions and where we work.
Imagine that all office workers suddenly telecommuted and perhaps only went into work one day a week, if that. Maybe even once bi-weekly. How many cars would that be off the road in any given city? It’s a hard thing to even measure because each city is different– they all have their focus industries. If the majority of office workers did indeed telecommute, it would be assumed that traffic congestion would significantly be reduced.
This has positive consequences as well. Fuel not used commuting would be used elsewhere–and office workers’ money could be allocated for other budgets. Time is also better spent by the office workers. The one to three hour round trip commute now would possibly be spent with their families, exercising, or spent doing activities that make them happy.
2. Land utility and re-classification
In less dense cities, office space tends to be spread out across many acres of land. If companies elected not to have office space, this land could be used in other ways because it would be freed up. It could be anything– a small farm to help feed the community, a new restaurant, or a multi-dwelling apartment/condo high-rise.
Land is an important resource not to be wasted on unnecessary or redundant activities.
3. General energy use, and decreasing waste
The energy to maintain an office building could be better spent elsewhere. Think about this: your residential home is sitting unoccupied all day long while you are at work. Depending on your locale, you must spend energy to keep your dwelling temperature controlled. Would it not be considered wasteful if you did not occupy your house half of the time? Your house can be multi-functional, and can be used to house you while you work. There is no need to burn through more fuel to power an office building.
4. Productivity increases by cutting down distractions
I have noticed throughout the course of my career that lack of productivity is associated with two things (in regards to environment): being comfortable, and the amount of distractions. When one first starts their job, they are still acclimating to their environment. It’s hard to really jump in and be productive on day 1. While some offices are obnoxiously quiet, others can have extremely…lively…environments that ultimately are toxic to being productive– especially with several people dropping by your desk unannounced to chat about a specific issue–or worse, the latest gossip about Mary Ann from Creative.
At home, it’s obviously a different story. You are already comfortable with your work environment and it’s familiar. You know where you keep office supplies and you have already made an effort (one would hope) to make adjustments for ergonomics and to limit distractions. It’s as quiet or loud as you’d like.
5. Home life balance
It’s frustrating for a typical office worker when they have worked a long day, only to be stuck in traffic for another hour. Some office workers are away from the home 12 hours a day. When you combine that time with regular routines at home that need to be completed, it leaves little time to the modern office worker to enjoy or spend with loved ones. How many times have you planned to get laundry done and cook a decent meal after work, only to get home exhausted, look at the overflowing hamper and declare you’re going to go get Chipotle for dinner instead? We’ve all been there. But if you’re already working remote 100%/full time, cooking dinner and doing chores are already easily factored into the day.
6. Cutting equipment costs
Some companies provide laptops to their remote employees. Some don’t. There are pro’s and con’s to both approaches. We don’t provide equipment to our remote workers because it’s too much of an overhead to our business. I’ve also heard of horror stories about terrible confrontations after remote workers have been terminated and fail to ship back your equipment. But, if your workers’ have their own devices, there is risk of their computers being previously infected with viruses which may compromise your own systems and data.
7. Yearly or Quarterly Meetings
What you save in office space you could use to send your team on a yearly retreat, especially if your team is spread out globally. Your team should be meeting digitally every so often via Hangouts, Skype, or some other software that allows for video chat. If you’re a very large team, host quarterly meetings depending where your concentration of people are located. Perhaps 80% of your team is located in Tampa Bay? So, rent some space to have quarterly meetings. Smaller teams can meet more often locally almost anywhere, restaurants, coffee shops, or even opening up your own home office is desirable.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Close down your offices and follow #RemoteLife! Or start slowly: hire some remote workers. They can be independent contractors to start, then gradually move into part time workers or full time ones. Once you get used to the idea and can cater to it, your current workers can try it out as well. After a while you’ll be paying for an empty office that no one uses. Either rent it out or let it go. Some great examples of companies already working remote are the WordPress companies like Automattic, 10up, Modern Tribe, etc. Are you next?