Increasing productivity/decreasing office space needs

Earlier this morning, I was reviewing one of NAIOP’s Understanding Corporate Real Estate articles from their Spring 2007 column.  Since the headline was entitled “‘ROWE’ Scheduling Improves Employee Efficiency,” I was immediately drawn in – after all, productivity and efficiency are the lifeblood of the real estate advising work that I do.  As it turns out, Best Buy has apparently been exploring a new work program known as ROWE, aka the “results-only work environment”.  For any fans of Larry the Cable Guy, this is essentially his “Git-R-Done” mentality with a corporate face on it.  The whole idea is to be freed from the restraints of an office and simply be evaluated based on your effectiveness instead of your face time.

As it turns out, Best Buy has been so satisfied with their results that they have created a subsidiary devoted to spreading the gospel of ROWE.  At CultureRx, they host in-person events, offer consulting services and even run their own blog.  When I worked at Microsoft, we had a similar initiative, but not with such a lofty title.  Essentially, when I did not have in-person obligations like team meetings or public speaking engagements, I was free to work from anywhere and at any hour.  This not only made it easier to get work done in a way that suited my personal style, but also reduced the overall space requirement we needed for our Chicago office.  I’m not sure what the specific formula was, but I know that the folks in Redmond were able to capitalize on our limited office visits by reducing the number of dedicated offices and cubicles, resulting in what I would estimate as a 10-20% reduction in overall space leased.  If ROWE can offer similar returns, it would be well worth it for real estate directors to have a sit-down with the HR department to explore what kind of ROI they might see from this program implementation, not to mention the productivity gains from their employees.

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