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How information technology is changing the landscape for federal employees.

Six Desks for Every 10 Workers of the Future?

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A desk for every federal employee might soon become a relic of the past.

By 2020, U.S. organizations are projected to reduce office space by almost one-fifth and will provide just six desks for every ten office workers, with each of those workers accessing the corporate IT network from an average of six different computing devices, according to the new “Workplace of the Future” report by Citrix.

The report, which surveyed 1,900 senior IT decision makers across 19 countries, found that by 2020, one-third of employees will no longer work from their traditional office, instead basing themselves in other locations such as their homes (64 percent), field and project sites (60 percent) and customer or partner premises (50 percent).

Globally, one-quarter of organizations already have fully adopted the mobile workforce environment. By 2014, respondents projected that 83 percent of organizations will have fully adopted mobile work, Citrix found.

Meanwhile, most organizations also are looking to new programs -- such as bring-your-own-device policies -- to help expand their mobility options. For example, 83 percent of organizations said they will use BYOD initiatives to manage the growing number of devices workers use to access the corporate network. Most employees will choose and purchase these devices on their own, with 76 percent of organizations reimbursing the employee in part or fully, according to the study.

The mobile workplace also is providing a number of benefits to organizations and employees, the study found. For organizations, mobility is creating a more flexible, agile workplace (73 percent), lower employee-related costs (53 percent) and reduced real estate costs (48 percent), and it is attracting (47 percent) and retaining (44 percent) top talent. Employees are enjoying more flexibility (65 percent), increased personal productivity (62 percent), less commuting time (61 percent) and a better work-life balance (55 percent), as a result of mobility options, Citrix found.

In September, I visited some top companies -- incluidng Facebook and IDEO in Silicon Valley -- that have already fully embraced the concept of mobility. While most of these workers still commute into the office nearly every day, the flexibility they have regarding when and where they want to work is key. In fact, most employees at these companies do not have their own desk space, opting instead to work with mobile devices in the open, collaborative workspaces at these companies.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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