One of the pioneers of allowing employees to work from home is IBM. They started doing it in 1979 and had 2,000 IBMer’s working from home within 4 years. By 2009, 40% of their 386,000 employees in 173 countries didn’t have an office.

IBM even sold buildings which they owned or in which they had an ownership interest. I used to work for a company which was one of their partners. That company built many buildings throughout the US with IBM as a major tenant and partial owner. Those buildings were sold as IBM reduced their occupancy.

So it was a surprise when IBM announced earlier this year that they wanted many of their employees back in the office. All of this according to an article in The Atlantic.

Is this the first sign of a trend toward putting employees back into an office where they can collaborate and increase productivity? According to a Gallup poll quoted in article, 43% of US employees work remotely all or some of the time. Various studies have shown this to increase productivity while others show just the opposite – proximity boosts productivity.

Perhaps there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to working from home or the office. Some functions require proximity to working in teams or having access to tools. Others require interaction in the field with clients or other offices of the company.

Lots of technologies have been created to aid in communication for a decentralized workforce – email, teleconferencing, Slack, Skype – again, with mixed results.

I have clients who have consolidated employees previously working in the home to an office and other clients who have sent everyone hone. Again, mixed results.

What has worked for you?

Bob Gibbons is a Real Estate Advisor & Tenant Advocate with REATA Commercial Realty, Inc. which is a tenant advisory firm based in Plano, Texas. Bob serves companies in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Addison, Dallas and the surrounding areas and specializes in companies which lease or buy office and warehouse properties.