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Despite widespread WFH, office footprints will remain the same
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

The impact of the global pandemic has been dramatic for the enterprise space, upending financial forecasts and sending workers across the globe home in accordance with social distancing guidelines. But while the conversation regarding the workforce has largely been centered around ongoing work-from-home (WFH) initiatives, businesses are now emerging from the “rushed” phase of their transformation and into a period where they need to start thoughtfully planning their long-term investments into their workforce.

The good news for many enterprise teams is that a lot of the changes they rushed to make at the start of the pandemic to support WFH laid the groundwork for how many of their teams will stay connected for the foreseeable future. As we’ve learned from many of our largest enterprise customers, the success of deploying a WFH workforce has convinced them to keep a great deal of their workers remote going forward.

But a recent report has found that despite the rise in WFH, companies that have weathered COVID-19 shouldn’t expect their office square footage to shrink in the long term.

Commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield’s “Experience per SF” survey tool forecast that the average office space size pre-pandemic will remain unchanged even as employees start heading back to the office in smaller numbers. This will be to accommodate more square footage per employee necessary for effective social distancing, offsetting any square-foot savings that might otherwise be gained through increased WFH.

The survey incorporates pre-pandemic responses with feedback from an additional 50,000 workers and employers polled during the current WFH environment. Cushman & Wakefield itself has about 53,000 employees in 400 offices across 60 countries.

This shows that even as enterprise IT teams have shifted focus away from their office-centric tech initiatives in support of remote work lately, office-centric IT projects that had been put on the backburner at the start of the pandemic shouldn’t be shelved indefinitely.

In fact, social distancing measures could require companies to expand their office footprints by 15- to 20 percent, the study found, though more than half of respondents indicated they’d see no change in footprint size as they follow through on flexible work initiatives.

That means that projects like SD-WAN, for instance, which help streamline network management over major office connections, still need to be seen through to completion alongside immediate WFH network overhauls.

It all comes down to IT teams being smart and efficient about how they approach their projects and prioritize budgets. Now is the time for teams to take a hard look at the tools they use to manage and monitor the network and even reevaluate the solutions knowledge workers use to connect over increasingly decentralized network footprints.

It’s a new day for enterprise IT, and the more they can prove their ability to build on the success of their rushed WFH transformation, the more essential they’ll be viewed in the eyes of major enterprise stakeholders in driving the success of the business (and influencing major decisions going forward). That means it’s time for teams to advocate for a more agile, flexible, and efficient network strategy going forward.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: network performance, network management, network performance monitoring, SD WAN, enterprise IT, enterprise network, wide area network, WAN, office network, real estate, office, office life, cloud computing, wfh, work from home, remote work

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