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Summary:

When Staples.com surveyed workers to find out what would improve life at the office, they were probably hoping to hear answers like fancy printers or chairs, but one of the top results was a change no merchant can supply: Getting rid of the office entirely.

staples office life survey

Tuesday was “Improve Your Office Day.” To mark this momentous occasion, Staples.com surveyed 300 workers to find out what would make life at the office better for them. It stands to reason that an office supply company was hoping to hear answers like fancy, new printers, snazzier paper clips or comfier chairs, but one of the top results was a change no merchant can supply: Getting rid of the office entirely.

While a healthy 37 and 35 percent of respondents fulfilled Staples’ dreams and suggested better office technology and furniture would brighten up life at the office, an even larger percentage (41 percent) thought the best improvement that could be made was not seeing the office at all. That’s the percentage that cited allowing or encouraging telecommuting as likely to improve American offices.

The only modification that won more support was eliminating office politics at 44 percent. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that adding telecommuting and removing office politics took the top slots, as research has shown previously that one of the most undersung benefits of remote work is how it reduces perceptions of and participation in office politics. Distance, in the case of colleagues, does seem to make the heart grow fonder.

Is the best improvement to the office getting rid of the need to be there?

Image courtesy of Flickr user kevinspencer.

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  1. Amen. I work at home, and while life-work balance is an entirely different disaster, it’s almost impossible to describe all of the benefits of eliminating the office. The one I love most: skipping right to the meat of work, without the nonsense of getting to and fitting into the office environment.

  2. When I worked in an office, a large part of the day was spent in time-wasting meetings and idle banter. Working from home eliminates that and, when meetings *are* called, everybody’s billing by the hour and the whole process is far more efficient. Also: pajamas.

  3. Robert C Farnham Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more… In fact, Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week – http://bit.ly/r2Ocby I’m packing my bags and moving my “office” to Costa Rica for the Winter. Few will even notice since most of my work is done on a computer. Not sure how the politics will be down there but at least the overall environment will be warmer than Vermont!

  4. How many of those companies who employ the 41% will listen to their employees’ wishes, though? How grounded in reality will a firm shift its workforce to telecommuters?

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Live has been much more enjoyable without office politics and obligatory meetings. Yes, it’s a struggle, but so worth it for our family.

  6. Unfortunately, many companies agree — and comply by moving office jobs out of the country. Sure, many simple defined tasks can be done from anywhere, but the core of office work should be teamwork, brainstorming and collaboration, things that can’t just be phoned in. The solution isn’t to eliminate the office, it’s to eliminate the impediments to office productivity.

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