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 SFGate.com slideshow outlined some of the most popular solutions for businesses hoping to create touchdown spaces more innovative than the traditional conference room.
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.
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.
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.