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Almost six out of 10 UK employees believe companies will no longer require an office space to do business by 2021, as mobile working continues to grow in popularity writes David Woods this week for HR Magazine. The study of 1,000 office workers was commissioned by Virgin Media Business to mark the 10th anniversary of TV series ‘The Office’, which first aired in the UK on 9 July 2001.Since David Brent, played by comedian Ricky Gervais, first hit screens ten years ago, the UK’s workforce has gone through massive changes, with 83% of workers saying that they are more productive now than in 2001, as innovations such as smartphones, Tablet PCs and cloud computing make it much easier to work whilst out of the office. The poll found 32% of workers are now happier than they were a decade ago, with advances in technology helping workers to strike a healthier work-life balance. Looking forward another decade to 2021, 56% of workers expect to see a marked reduction in the amount of time that they spend travelling to and from work or to meetings. Just 23% of commuters think they will have to travel more in 10 years’ time. Big changes are also expected in the tools that workers use, with 56% of British employees saying that business and consumer technologies will have merged completely. And almost two-thirds (63%) hoping that one device will be all they need to work and play, offering access to everything they require in their professional and private lives.

Mark Heraghty, MD, Virgin Media Business, said: “Just like the dinosaurs, the office may soon be resigned to the history books, with six in ten workers predicting that they won’t exist by 2021. This is a trend that we’re already starting to see across the UK, with mobile working tripling in the last year alone. As employers search for more agile and effective ways of running their businesses, we’re increasingly finding that firms are swapping expensive office spaces in favour of a virtual workplace, where all activities can be conducted remotely. “With most businesses already benefiting from the rollout of super-fast connectivity, we expect to see the move towards remote working continue as advances in technology mean staff can work from anywhere with an internet or Wi-Fi connection. As innovations, such as cloud computing become mainstream over the next 10 years, we’ll see employees enjoying much greater flexibility. With the right communication and collaboration tools in place to ensure that the office culture is not lost, this will lead to a happier, more productive and efficient workforce; the holy grail for management.” LM Research polled 1,000 UK office workers between 30 June and 2 July 2011.

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