In a just-released study, SupportSoft Inc. says that, in addition to supporting a central office, two-thirds of information technology (IT) departments are also supporting remote and mobile workers across a range of environments - satellite offices, home offices, and customer sites. A technology connection is only the first step in supporting these workers, however. Many employees still require, at least some of the time, a physical point of presence to collaborate with colleagues on projects or to meet with clients.
What if, instead of establishing additional offices, a company could provide remote and mobile workers with the same resources of a centralized corporate campus, without expensive capital expenditures and overhead such as IT and telecommunications equipment? Enterprise workplace solutions are now available that offer access to individual and group workplaces and meeting rooms based on a company's needs - so that sales professionals, consultants, and executives can continue to seize new opportunities around the world without costly real estate liabilities. By enabling businesses to have a physical presence just about anywhere business gets done, this network of professional workplaces makes gaining a competitive advantage more affordable.
Business travelers needing drop-in access to a business-ready environment can also take advantage of workplace networks. For a fraction of the cost of investing in traditional real estate, corporations can ensure that their teams have a private, secure setting in which to meet with clients, prepare presentations, and check e-mail. With solutions customized to an individual's or company's requirements, such arrangements can be a significant cost savings - and they sure beat working from coffee shops and airports.
Shifting the Paradigm for Big Savings
It wasn't so long ago that I had to drive to a music store and pay for a CD with multiple recordings, just to listen to a single song that I liked. More than once my time and money were wasted, because I didn't care for every song I had purchased. Today, my teenage daughters can download the MP3 file of a favorite song for a dollar, in a matter of minutes. To them it is only logical - they pay only for what they need, and they get it on demand.
So it has become with commercial real estate. Even the largest multinational corporations are undergoing a paradigm shift with regard to where and how their employees work. By utilizing a network of business-ready offices available at flexible terms, corporations are putting people on the ground whenever, wherever and for however long it is profitable to do so, while cutting down on wasted office space and eliminating up-front capital expenditures. With a variety of workplace models at their disposal, they are using real estate as a flexible tool that supports their needs in any economy - and some are realizing multimillion-dollar savings.
As always, the quest for business agility requires a fresh look at conventional wisdom. What can be done differently to accelerate growth, given the challenges we now face? These are tough questions in tough times, but the answers will result in more resilient, more efficient, and more profitable enterprises going forward.
John Hampton is vice president of Enterprise Solutions for Regus Americas, a global provider of flexible workplace solutions. He is responsible for leading the organization's Corporate Accounts division and consulting with Regus' largest clients to help them optimize their real estate portfolios. For more information, visit www.regus.com.