What will offices look like in the future? As employees continue to ask for more flexibility regarding working hours and locations, the number of companies and CEOs wrestling with this question continues to grow.
So do their approaches.
The US company Automattic, for example, recently closed their San Francisco office, because employees were spending more time working outside the office than in it. Roughly five of the 550 could be found in the office, Automattic’s CEO Matt Mullenweg tells Quartz.
Their motto? Employees can work from wherever – so long as they get the job done.
For employees who prefer to work from a co-working space or in cafes, Automattic provides a stipend of 250 USD (223 euros) per month.
Working remotely is also a popular concept in Germany. The Berlin startup CodeControl, an online marketplace for designers and developers, relies heavily on this approach.
“We are convinced that the people who are experts in their fields want flexibility,” says Marc Clemens, CodeControl’s founder in an interview with Gründerszene.
Clemens approach is to let only his best developers work remotely, as an incentive.
Developers who accept a job through CodeControl can also rent space from one of 45 co-working spaces across Europe, and the company takes on the costs.
The startup still has an office in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, but by the end of 2017, Clemens wants to convert it into a co-working space.
Home office mentioned in only a quarter of German employees’ contracts
Are offices obsolete? No yet. Managers seem to have a hard time giving up control over their employees, at least in Germany.
Three out of every four employees working in the digital sectors are allowed to work from home, according to a survey distributed by the German Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW).
But only a quarter of the 712 respondents have home office rules and permissions listed in their work contract, the survey found.
Even Berlin founders are skeptical.
“We don’t do home office,” says Gen Sadakane, co-founder of EyeEm. But what is so bad about home office? According to Sadakane, quite a lot: “E-mails and chat programs are time-consuming.”
“Working together in the office is much more efficient,” he says. And when it comes to integrating a new employee, it just isn’t possible from home office. You need to have a colleague beside you, he continues.
Not to mention that collaboration in the office has its own advantages, like direct feedback and brainstorming sessions.
Sadakane accepts that this makes him unpopular among his employees and admits to the topic causing heated arguments between employees and higher-ups.
Where employees meet does not matter
Sadakane, however, is not opposed to flexible work spaces. In his opinion other models are feasible, so long as the employees are together in one space.
They can meet in the office, in a cafe or at a colleagues home, he says. He does not really care.
This text originally appeared on Gründerszene (German).