You build a mine where the ore is. And facilities right next to the mine, to extract the metals from it. And a factory next to it that turns the raw metal into parts and objects. And a train station or a port next to it, so you can move the objects to the stores you built where the people are. And you also build a town where all your employees will live.
That’s how it’s always been done.
You cannot work the land, without living on it and getting your boots muddy. If you are hoarding something valuable, you need to hire night-guards who will actually show up at work. I understand, there are many jobs that require a person to show up at a particular place at a particular time to get the job done. The actors have to actually show up at the theater for the show to go on.
But many of those same companies also have offices and headquarters. Not to mention that more and more companies are dealing with information, education, knowledge, news or entertainment. Why do they still require people to show up at the office?
When the economic times are tough, why do CEOs fire people?
Why don’t they close the offices instead?
And keep the people?
Is it because they hate to relinquish personal micromanaging control?
That’s what telecommuting and coworking are all about. Recognition that the concept of the “office” is something that belongs to the previous millennium. All the office-typical work can now be done online.
If you force people to come to the office every day, they will resent the lack of freedom. They will resent you for being overbearing and controlling. People who rub elbows with each other every day are bound to sometimes rub each other the wrong way, starting animosities, cliques and general sense of disgruntleness. The result can be this. And will be, more and more, as the new generations were not brought up to suffer indignities in silence.
There is a lot of complaining going around the business leaders’ circles about the Millennials being lazy or demanding. No, the kids see an antiquated system and are working to change it from within, demanding that you change the way you do business – it is you who ‘don’t get it’, the kids are fine.
If you close the office and keep the employees, you will get stronger loyalty and greater job satisfaction. The job will get done better. People will come up with creative ideas that can save your company.
Furthermore, you will be able to hire the best – the people who live elsewhere and have no intention to move for the job, people who are aware of their quality and cannot be bullied into uprooting their families just to work for you.
Even better, if your employees are all around the world, this means that they are walking billboards for your company. They go around certain circles wherever they are and answer the usual question “what do you do?” every day. If they are all at the HQ, you need to pay for PR. If they are everywhere, the PR is automatic and free.
But apparently, the CEOs are not even aware how outdated their thinking is. A recent survey prompted some of them to think, for the first time, about the possibilities. It will be too late by the time they moved from “hmmm, interesting idea” to “yes, we’ll do this right now”.
Kevin Gamble asks:
When working with organizations, I’ve heard it said more than once, “People are our most important resource,” and yet how many are downsizing? Do you hear them seriously considering the savings that could accrue from closing unneeded offices? I have yet to hear a single person mention that their organizations are considering closing offices in order to preserve staffing. I have heard a few mentions of consolidation of offices, but that’s different.
Even without an economic meltdown the closing of offices makes total sense. Given our current situation, closing offices is a no-brainer. Seriously, unless you are selling or producing a physical product what function does your office serve? Make a list– yes, I am challenging you to justify why you keep your offices while at the same time downsizing your work force. I’ll wait… go make that list. Now which of those functions could be satisfied in some less expensive, and perhaps better manner by a co-working facility, hot-desking, or virtual meeting space?