Cost and productivity savings from distributed offices (telecommuting)

A review of “remote working,” BusinessWeek, Dec. 12, 2005 at 78, mentions figures that might give law departments some things to consider when weighing the pluses and minuses of telecommuting. (See my posts of Sept. 25, 2005 on unmet desires by lawyers to work from home, Oct.18, 2005 questioning that data, and Oct. 19, 2005 on obstacles.)

At IBM, 40 percent of the workforce has no office at the company; at ATT, likewise for thirty percent of the managers. Sun Microsystems nearly 50 percent of its employees can work from outside the office, saving the company $300 million in real estate costs. For Agilent, where 70 percent of the workforce “is connected remotely either some or all of the time,” the company “estimates that these virtual workers cost 60% less.” Finally, Sun says its virtual workers are 15 percent more productive than its office workers.

We are likely to see the 20th century paradigm of lawyers in offices, with large filing cabinets inside and outside, flanked by secretaries go the way of the rotary dial phone. With savings on facilities, higher retention rates for workers, and increased productivity – if these are true, law departments will start to disperse their lawyers.

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