European businesses will only need three quarters of a desk per employee by 2020 due to the impact of remote working.
According to a survey of almost 2,000 senior IT decision makers commissioned by Citrix, large organisations are already planning to reduce desk space in their offices by 7% over the next two years. This figure rises to 14% by 2020.
It found the average number of devices employees use to access the corporate network in any day will hit five in less than eight years, giving more options for working away from the office.
This will allow companies to reduce costs, with almost half of those who have adopted a mobile working policy saying they had already made savings on real estate and other related charges.
Yet only 24% had already gone down the mobile route.
Just under half (46%) said they would have a formal mobile policy in place in the next two years. But 18% said they would never have such a policy, citing cultural concerns with trust and a lack of IT budget as prime reasons.
Attitude to remote working by sector
Some sectors are keener than others, with the media, entertainment and leisure industries claiming they would only need one desk for every two employees. Non-profit, government and manufacturing sectors were less prepared to sacrifice office space.
But they may be missing out, as the survey showed other benefits to remote working beside cost-cutting.
A significant 66% of respondents said mobile working allowed a more flexible and agile work environment. Half of those polled pointed to the more practical benefit of fewer employee expenses, such as travelling.
Other advantages included attracting and retaining new talent – cited by 39% and 35% respectively – as well as the improved business continuity mentioned by 32%.
“With workers expecting to work flexibly, and businesses looking to embrace the full benefits of mobile working, the demise of the dedicated desk will be the next phase in the transformation of the office,” said James Stevenson, area vice-president for the UK, Ireland and South Africa at Citrix.
However, Stevenson warned mobile working brought its own problems and IT departments would bear the brunt of the work needed to ensure and safe mobile policy.
“While there are obvious benefits to flexible working, IT strategy and implementation should not be overlooked, especially with the number of devices able to access corporate data on the rise,” added Stevenson.
“Ensuring appropriate governance measures are in place – to protect confidential information and ensuring employee support for mobile working – will be critical.”