What Barriers Remain to Alternative Workplace Adoption?

The rise of the alternative workplace is nothing new, but the economy has accelerated the mandate of corporations to look for more cost-effective ways to house employees. Downsizing office space is preferable to downsizing human resources in a Knowledge Economy.

This week, we’ve been taking a look at a benchmarking study from New Ways of Working called, “Alternative Workplace Strategies in the Current Economy: A 2009 Global Benchmarking Study by New Ways of Working.” In this installment, we’ll take a look at the barriers that remain to mainstreaming alternative workplace strategies in corporate America, as well as how organizations measure success.

Indeed, obstacles do remain for the widespread adoption of the alternative workplace model. The study identified several key challenges: organizational culture, management concerns, resistance or fear of change, and executive buy-in and endorsement. These are all people issues, not economic issues. Essentially, the alternative workplace goes against decades of corporate norm.

With this in mind, the study authors are calling for more evaluation of alternative workplace impacts on issues such as attracting and retaining talent, employee satisfaction, and employee engagement. If companies can see clear-cut evidence of the value of alternative workplace strategies for the human resources side of the equation, that could lower some of those barriers.

Study participants that shared success with alternative workplace strategies cited several benefits, beginning with reducing the corporate footprint and saving money. But there are also softer benefits, such as employee satisfaction and engagement. About one-third of companies measure employee productivity as it relates to the success of alternative workplaces. However, this is an employee’s self-appraisal of productivity rather than a true measure based on schedules and budgets.


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