COVID-19 Update

Study Suggests Most US Businesses Have Reduced Office Space

Nearly 70% of the businesses surveyed have permanently closed some or all of their office space since March 2020, Digital.com survey says.

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A new survey of 1,250 U.S. businesses spells out just how much the pandemic has changed the way we work and how our home and work lives have become intertwined.

The survey, conducted by Digital.com, found that nearly 70% of the businesses surveyed have permanently closed some or all of their office space since March 2020, when pandemic-induced public health guidelines restricted public gatherings.

We knew some businesses were agile enough to quickly adapt to remote work, but the survey sheds new light on just how impactful the pandemic was.

Of those businesses that chose to close at least some of their office space, 37% closed all of their office space, leaving employees to work out of their homes full time.

However, it’s not just public health restrictions that are changing the ways businesses work, as 39% are still anticipating closing some or all office space within the next six months, suggesting that remote and hybrid work is becoming the standard among U.S. businesses.

According to the survey, the demand for remote work is the top reason why businesses have chosen to close their office space, coming in at 69%. Saving money, confidence in remote work productivity and health of employees, in that order, were the next biggest factors.

The survey suggests that larger organizations with at least 51 employees were generally more likely to close or downsize office space, but businesses with 10 or fewer employees were more likely to keep all their office space open.

A sizeable chunk (31%) have not closed any office space, but even companies opting to retain some office space are giving employees the option to work fully remotely indefinitely, as 51% signaled a willingness to do so, according to Digital.com.

Another 17% who aren’t abandoning all their footprint will allow a mix of on-site work and remote work, and just 14% are requiring a full return to the office.

What this means for pro AV

Although a large portion of businesses surveyed have closed some office space, the survey indicates that 63% of businesses are still operating in an office at least part time, albeit some in a downsized space.

Even companies that aren’t closing their office space are open to remote work, as 68% will allow at least hybrid work options. That means there is still a huge market for remote work technologies like videoconferencing room systems, accessory devices like headphones and microphones, videoconferencing displays and more.

The Digital.com survey is just one out of many since March 2020 that indicate a broad shift to remote or hybrid work regardless of the pandemic. I have long thought that the pro AV industry is well equipped to handle the challenges of today’s rapidly changing work environments, and studies continue to confirm that belief.