The death of the office - is it such a bad thing?

August 16, 2023
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According to CNN, remote work risks wiping out $800 billion from the value of office buildings in major cities worldwide by 2023. The trend of working from home is pushing up office vacancy rates and driving down rents, but should we be mourning the loss of the office in 2023 and beyond? 

It’s a well-known fact that the nine-to-five, 5-day-week model is - in the grand scheme of things - fairly new. It was brought about by Henry Ford in 1926 and, until the pandemic hit, we’d mostly taken this structure for granted. But the world of work is constantly evolving and moving with the times. Technology has given many former office workers the tools to do their jobs just as easily from home, and it’s proven immensely popular. According to a survey from Clarify Capital, nearly 7 in 10 employees said they would rather look for a new job than return to the office.  

Similarly, with results of remote work consistently coming up positive, we must begin to ask ourselves why corporations are trying to pedal the death of the office as such a terrible thing. In an article for Forbes, Jack Kelly writes: “The unintended mass experiment of working from home during the pandemic made us realize that remote work works. Not only was it successful, employees spent more hours on their tasks and the stock prices of companies soared to record highs.” So why are big businesses hellbent on getting us back behind our office desks? 

A big part of it is money. Kelly continues, “Major corporations have invested small fortunes in purchasing, leasing and refurbishing office space. If staff does not return en masse, the C-suite executives will have to eat the huge expensive costs of their office buildings.” But at a time when more power and decision-making is being handed to workers, is it a good enough reason to stay in the office, to keep (typically already wealthy) company leaders in the green? 

The responses to CNN’s report show the true color of working opinions. “Why do I care about the value of office buildings lol?” writes one Twitter user. “Eliminating commuting into cities for jobs that don’t really require it is a good thing. Even public transport has a carbon footprint” writes another. Many others share the opinion that, during a time when there is a widespread rise in living costs and increased poverty, the spaces could be put to better use. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to add more housing without having to actually find new land to build on. The office space just needs to be converted,” says a third user.

Overall, the narrative that the corporate world needs offices to survive is being met with more and more skepticism. And the price leaders will pay for their stubbornness is their greatest asset: people. 

At Remotify, we specialise in setting up companies with flexible remote work services that will stand them in good stead, long into the future. Want to find out how we can help you? Book a call with a member of our friendly team today! 

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