Mobility and Shrinking the Real Estate Footprint

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Getting rid of unused office space could save the federal government billions of dollars annually, report says.

Federal employees will need to telework more frequently to realize a greater return on investment, and that may come in the form of reducing the real estate footprint and investing in hoteling and collaboration software. So why aren’t more agencies making those investments?

A report released last week by Mobile Work Exchange, VMware and Carahsoft found just 21 percent of agencies have invested in collaboration software, while a mere 15 percent have invested in hoteling software to support their mobile workforce.

“I’m hoping investments in hoteling software make a big jump because that’s where agencies will realize billions in savings,” said Cindy Auten, general manager for Mobile Work Exchange.

HR managers surveyed by MWE estimated more than 25 percent of their office space is unoccupied at any given time. By eliminating this unused office space in favor of a robust telework/mobility program, agencies could collectively save an estimated $15.1 billion on real estate per year, according to the report.

Doug Bourgeois, vice president for end user computing for the public sector at VMware and former CIO at the Patent and Trademark Office, said while agencies will need to boost the amount of hours/days employees telework to realize the real estate savings, it’s not always necessary to move to a hoteling concept.

“At PTO, we found that employees who teleworked 100 percent of the time had trouble connecting with the team,” he said. “But I think generally that eased over time.”

Instead, agencies may turn to collaboration software, videoconferencing or social media to make up for the lack of in-person contact at the office, Bourgeouis said.

“Workforce engagement is a very important issue from a retention standpoint,” he said. “More investments in technology are required in order for it to work.”

What are your thoughts? Is your agency investing in HR-specific software, specifically for collaboration or hoteling, to move a telework/mobility strategy forward, reduce real estate and keep workers engaged? 

(Image via TATSIANAMA/Shutterstock.com)