Work and Life in the Mobile Society/Business Impact/Management

How is mobile work and life affecting office space and facilities design and management?

The “Next Generation Workplace” is one of the upshots of the evolution of IT, Globalization and developments in the organizational structure. “Telecommuting” is becoming increasingly common to businesses as organizations realize the many benefits reaped from this new trend, major among them are increased productivity and huge cuts on office space expenditures. Where IT plays a significant role in the new and increasing trend of mobile work, it has to deal with the cost of infrastructure vis-à-vis its ROI, obsolescence inherent to IT environment and continuing changes in the corporate culture resulting to the changes in the physical environment of the organization.

Space Reductions


Organizational changes happen over time and in this era of globalization and IT-dominated world, the work structure; process and scope have drastically changed. The shift to the service-oriented environment from the traditional in-house serviced companies coupled with the development of information technology initiated the “mobile work” culture. More are adopting mobile work as it proves to be beneficial to the employer, employees and the society as well. At the outset of this trend, huge office spaces were left unoccupied and needs to be redesigned to adapt to the new structure. Jim Brodie, IBM Canada's Toronto-based program manager of national mobility, made this discovery last year when faced with the task of reassigning 250 IBM workers into the downtown spaces — which on paper were nearing full capacity — when the lease on a third space wasn't renewed. "On an average day, we've found that anywhere from 30% to 60% of our office space isn't being utilized," says Brodie. (Maureen Halushak). As more spaces in the office become unnecessary, management’s first initiative is to reduce office space occupancy. When this happens, significant cuts on real estate costs or leasing costs would bring favorable financial results to the company. More so, utilities and other related maintenance costs would be positive for the company’s results of operations. A case study conducted by InnoVissions Canada cites that “AT&T was able to reduce its office-space costs by 50% and has since 1995, saved $500 million in office lease costs by promoting telecommuting. (InnoVissions Canada).

Design Considerations


Along with space, management goes the design of facilities to fit the organization’s overall view. Here, the totality of the organization, its structure, focus, culture, values, vision and mission have to be taken into consideration in deciding the appropriate space and design of the facilities. However, the predicament lies on the envisioning the physical structure and infrastructure. In many cases, organizations who attempted to reorganize their office environments failed due to lack of foresight of the company’s needs based on the organization’s overall picture. Implementation failures do not anticipate the unique support needs of a mobile workforce relative to the organization’s structure. As a result, administration costs related to the mobile deployment may drain the organization’s resources and may surmount the cost savings gained from trimming down space occupancy. However, with proper matching of facility and design strategies with the overall business structure and purposes, these issues can be cleared out. Designs and structures should support, rather than obstruct, companies in their quest to gain competitive advantage.



Despite the downside, mobile work would sure play a big role in the business world technology as survey results demonstrate that advantages surpass its disadvantages. The only impediment this move is facing is management’s resistance. However, equipped with proper implementation approach and due diligence on the conduct of office space planning and design in line with the corporate long-term plans, telecommuting would earn more support from the global economy.


  • InnoVisions Canada. Available from Accessed October 28, 2008.
  • Maureen Halushak, March 5, 2007, Canadian Business Online.
  • Will work for space: Toward design for the bottom line. Available from [1]. Accessed October 31, 2008.