Should Knowledge Work-Based Companies Move Ahead Without Offices?

by | Jun 24, 2020

Just like shipbuilding happens in shipyards or toys get made (reportedly) in Santa’s workshop, the office is a factory for information processing. The concept of the modern centralized office came into existence during the early 20th century because civil servants, attorneys, accountants, and other office workers needed a place where they could work on and store paperwork, access tools, and collaborate with colleagues. 

However, computers have rendered many of those original information processing jobs obsolete, and now, artificial intelligence and automation are coming for what’s left.

In addition, the McKinsey Global Institute says around 50 percent of current office work activities are now automatable with today’s existing technology. Combined with the fact that people no longer need to go to the office to access their tools of the trade or colleagues—along with an unplanned, yet successful, field testing of remote work technology as primary work infrastructure—companies are now seriously asking the question…

Do we really need offices anymore? 

Modern Knowledge Workers Need Work Infrastructure That Supports Their Activities

Organizations that are built on “knowledge work”—jobs characterized by creativity, problem-solving, and coming up with new ideas and strategies—need different kinds of support than they did a generation ago. These companies and teams now often comprise diverse, global networks of permanent and freelance talent. Members of the same teams often don’t even work in the same location or time zone. They may even choose to work different hours than traditional business hours. As such, they require work infrastructure that facilitates how they work now…not how they worked 25 years ago.

Enter cloud-based work platforms. Over the last 10 years or so, many of the world’s large enterprise organizations migrated their business processes and information management systems to cloud-based systems that made everything accessible from anywhere without having to worry about local servers and their myriad of logistical and security issues. Now, it’s small- and medium-sized business’ turn.

What Would a Company Need to Eliminate to Make Remote/Decentralized Work Permanent?

Any organization considering making the wholesale move from in-office to remote work will have to figure out how to eliminate paper and paper-based files, business processes, and information management practices. Imaging Office Systems offers precisely the types of solutions a company would need in this regard—from enterprise scanning services to secure, climate-controlled box storage. Many of the companies we work with choose to take advantage of a service we call “Scan to Zero.” With Scan to Zero, we store of all your paper files and, over time, scan them all into a cloud-based database solution, which makes the information fully accessible and usable by organizations and workers flung all over the globe. In the meantime, if you require any files from storage, we provide retrieval and digital delivery of those files in a matter of hours.

How Much Money Could be Saved by Downsizing or Eliminating Offices?

Having a big office with a fancy address used to be a status symbol for businesses—something that was important in attracting the kind of talent and customers a business desired. But those offices have become increasingly empty during the daytime working hours as more knowledge workers adopt “work-from-anywhere-at-anytime” modalities.

As a result, many companies are questioning an expense that once seemed non-negotiable. Depending on where you live, office space may cost a company as much as $14,800 per year, per employee (assuming about 200 square feet of space per employee). By reducing or eliminating office space, a company will also save on associated costs like utilities and insurance.

Nearly 50 Years of Business Process and Information Management Expertise

As you can see, there are compelling reasons that any knowledge work-based company should now be seriously considering their options for going fully virtual or significantly downsizing their physical offices. Most companies have unique aspects about their organization to consider, so it makes sense to have a conversation with someone who’s worked with other companies in their position. These are the kinds of changes that can make or break the future of a company, and it’s important to enlist as much knowledge and experience in this area as possible. We offer that knowledge and experience. Get in touch with us today to start the conversation!