Since 1990’s, major companies in the United States have been implementing alternative workplace strategies (AWS), which is about how and where employees work. With advancement of information communication technologies (ICT), as long as data and information was accessible online and internal and external communication could be done in timely manner either virtually or physically anywhere, workers no longer needed to report to corporate office space to perform the work they were being paid to perform. The companies that integrated AWS has different mix of different aspects of alternative workplace comprised of telecommuting, hoteling, free address, shared desk mixed with traditional office space. Of these, free address office (sometimes called non-territorial or hot desking) is often debated hotly between the real estate management side and office users side within company, because free address means not having one’s own desk. For those who are to work in a department within a company that has free address office, it is like going to class in university where one does not have any seat assignment. For corporations, immediate and most obvious benefit from implementing the AWS is huge real estate cost savings. It is not just space lease cost, but it means utility, furniture and services and other costs as well. Companies, however, are aware that it is people who perform work that generate income, and ever since its inception of AWS, managers at companies have been trying to find the balance of maximizing employee work motivation and work output and human resource costs which are mainly salaries, but includes ICT, real estate and services, and health management.
With companies that implemented free address office, many factors came into play. With young people who are just entering workforce, or who has only a few years of experience working in traditional office where one person has his or her own desk may or may not have difficulty working in free address office. Men and women who seek flexible workplace during the years of child raring and caring for aged or sick family members will accept free address as a part of AWS. However, in 2012 when more companies are adapting AWS with free address office in the United States, survey shows that majority of older workforce is not happy to give up their own desk at office.
No one will argue that traditional work style where an employee is assigned a desk and expected to sit at the desk for 8 hours work day is no longer applicable to today’s technology enabled work environment. Validity of free address office within AWS, however, still needs rigorous research with empirical evidence, especially in the area of human resource management side, because employees’ physical and psychological needs are directly tied to free address office aspect of AWS.