According to a recent New York Times article, there are over 3 million Americans now working remotely. How can employers best support these mobile employees in finding the balance between maximum productivity and flexibility?

Companies who hire telecommuters and mobile employees should entice workers to come into the office for face-to-face time and to create personal connections. Exposure to the day-to-day workings of the workspace also facilitates an understanding of the company’s corporate culture and promotes deeper loyalty. Touchdown spaces are less formal than permanent workstations, offering visiting telecommuters and virtual employees a space to work in-house. Reserving these spaces ahead of time is sometimes called hoteling—as opposed to drop-in spaces, which is often referred to as “hot-desking.” This concept differs from setting up visitors in an empty conference room, break room, or common workspace for these important reasons:
  • Boost productivity for virtual employees: Touchdown spaces should maximize efficient use of time in the office, based on individual preferences. Some employees will prefer a more traditional desk setup, where others will opt for a lounge space.
  • Provide private workstations for better concentration: Many virtual employees typically only come in to meet with their team, but offering touchdown space gives them a reason to stay in the office before and after the meetings.
  • Instant connectivity: Any touchdown space should provide “plug-and-play” connectivity to the office to optimize the employee’s time.
  • Cost savings on square footage per employee: Mobile employees don’t need assigned workstations year round—and this unused space becomes wasted. Touchdown spaces allow employers to make better use of unused space year round, such as a game, fitness or training space, project war rooms and even leasing extra office space.

Popular Touchdown Space Ideas

The options for touchdown space configurations are nearly endless. An slideshow outlined some of the most popular solutions for businesses hoping to create touchdown spaces more innovative than the traditional conference room.

Cafe Silo

Turn part of the employee break room into a working cafe to facilitate one-on-one meetings or provide a hideaway where workers can plug in and catch up on email.

Touchdown Row

Configure an unused office or conference room into several workstations for a number of visiting workers, and use a reservation system (hoteling or benching) for them to reserve the space.

Soundproof Area

Provide a very small and soundproof office or, as a Bloomberg article outlined, a phone booth that remains open/available for last-minute private meetings or calls.

Refuge Space

One more option is a sort of refuge space—a small but connected space where workers can escape for a break from the open office distractions. A conversation nook or even a bunk can provide this refuge.

Get Started

The benefits and balance offered by encouraging telecommuters to come into the office can mean breakthroughs in productivity. Corovan can take a look at your existing space and offer suggestions on how to implement touchdown spaces in optimal ways for your individual needs.

Touchdown Space Must-Haves [Checklist]

A touchdown space doesn’t have to be as cutting-edge as a bunk or glass phone booth. A simple charging station and Wi-Fi access are often all that is needed. Stanford University’s IT department has put together a list of items that should be included to configure the most complete version of a touchdown space.
A shared computer should have Boot Camp software, which allows a Mac to run both Mac OS and Windows software.
A strong wireless connection
Ergonomic workspace (a combination of standing and sitting workspaces)
Charging stations—extra phone and computer charger cords
Combo copier/printer/fax
Laptop docks
Carving out space for your mobile workers ensures that they stay connected to the workplace mission, culture, and goals. Partnering with a workplace change expert can help you determine the best options for the addition of touchdown spaces to your office.