IRVINE, CA, Jul 31 (Marketwire) --
Despite some signs of economic recovery and tepid growth in occupied office space, the virtual office is here to stay, according to the Global Workspace Association (GWA), whose office-business-center members are reporting strong year-over-year revenue growth.
"Today's workforce is increasingly independent and mobile, and companies continue to pursue cost-containing office arrangements that improve their bottom line," said John Jordan, GWA president. "We are entering a new era in which convenience and savings are no longer opposing forces. With a few clicks, the virtual office -- complete with a receptionist, physical street address, meeting-room availability and other amenities -- is available when and where needed."
According to the GWA, virtual-office revenue in 2011 increased by 8.2 percent year over year, and accounted for 9.5 percent of U.S. office business centers' total revenues. Meeting-room also grew in popularity in 2011, with revenue for this category rising 10.5 percent year over year.
Improvement in the traditional office space sector has not been robust or consistent, due largely to fragile economic conditions. Real estate research firm Reis Inc. reported that, in the quarter ended June 30, the absorption rate of traditional office space declined from the previous
quarter in the 79 U.S. markets that were tracked. In all, employers discarded tens of millions of square feet of space during the economic downturn.
"With the national vacancy rate still well into the double digits, it is clear that companies are resisting long-term lease arrangements in many markets," said Jordan. "This dynamic, and the fact that individual and corporate demand for mobility is soaring, are the driving forces for virtual offices."
By 2015, the world's mobile worker population will total more than 1.3 billion, more than 37 percent of the total workforce, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). In the Americas alone, the number of mobile workers is expected to grow to more than 212 million, up from 182.5 million in 2010, the research firm reported. The Asia/Pacific region will see the largest increase, growing from 601.7 million in 2010 to 838.7 million in 2015. Reinforcing this outlook, Cisco predicts that from 2011 to 2016 global mobile data traffic will grow 3 times faster than fixed IP traffic.
The self-employment boom in the previous decade has contributed to the demand for greater mobility. Sole-practitioner businesses grew faster than those in any other category from 1997 to 2006, with an average annual growth rate of 3.35 percent.
Also a factor is rise of the "solopreneur," noticeable among a subset of baby-boomer professionals. A study earlier this year by MBO Partners found that a growing number of baby-boomer generation workers are breaking out on their own, citing professional, financial and lifestyle reasons. MBO estimates that, in addition to the 5 million baby boomers already working independently, an additional 1.2 million are expected to join the self-employed workforce during the next two years.
Major employers are also cognizant of growing worker demand for mobility. A survey published this year by Robert Half International asked 1,400 U.S.-based CFOs about perquisites already provided or being considered to strengthen employee retention and motivation. At 24 percent, the second most important consideration was flexible work hours and telecommuting.
About the GWA
The Global Workspace Association (GWA) is an international, nonprofit trade association representing business-center owners, co-working facilities, mobile workforce service providers, virtual office operators, managers, support staff and third-party vendors engaged in delivering on-demand, variable-cost, fully serviced office space on flexible terms by the hour, day, week, month or year. For more information about GWA, please visit www.globalworkspace.org or contact Executive Director Richard Meyers at (949) 260-9023 or at email@example.com.
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