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IFMA workplace strategy survey finds unassigned space on the rise

Oct. 09, 2015

A new survey released by IFMA provides critical insights into the evolving state of workplace strategy. According to “Distributed Work Revisited” released at IFMA’s World Workplace 2015 Conference and Expo, most surveyed organizations have increased the number of staff sitting in unassigned spaces when compared with the initial 2009 “Distributed Work” report. At the same time, survey respondents reported a decrease in the amount of space required to support unassigned staff.

“Our workplace research confirmed that distributed work strategies are here to stay,” says Gordon Wright, Director of Consulting at HOK, which co-authored and co-sponsored the report. “The key for organizations across the world is to understand how to modify these workplace strategies over time to keep pace with the changing needs of their people and operations.”

IFMA has researched and reported on distributed workplace strategies since the early 1990s. This latest contribution, Research Report #37, identifies trends across industry categories primarily in Canada and the United States. During its 35 years of service to the facility management industry, IFMA has observed and supported a shift in the perception of the workplace to become a tool to support organizational goals.

IFMA found that in order to help achieve these goals, more organizations employing a “growth without growth” strategy when it comes to workspace allocation. With more people using less space, the sharing ratio has increased such that organizations are increasing their size while using the same amount of real estate.

The report also identifies social barriers — not technological ones — as the primary hurdle for implementation of distributed work strategies. For those organizations that do adopt distributed work strategies, technology and furniture are the top drivers of cost. One surprising result was the increased cost of parking, resulting from the fact that workplace density is increasing beyond the expected levels.

The complete version of “Distributed Work Revisited: Research Report #37” is available for sale online at https://www.ifma.org/marketplace/store/product-view/distributed-work-revisited. In addition to the complete survey data, the report includes case studies and a valuable “Lessons Learned” section. The report is US$95 for IFMA members and US$1​75 for nonmembers. This paper was made possible by generous contributions from supporting sponsors HOK and Allsteel.