The Office of the Future: No Private Jets
Memo from CEO to Middle Management:
I know this is going to come as a shock, but the company can no longer afford to allocate a private jet to each employee. It was nice while it lasted. You will now share seating on our jets with your colleagues.
Now I know that there will be those of you who do not agree with this decision. You believe that you and your people’s productivity will take a hit because of all the time you will have to spend making reservations for air travel, instead of just jumping in your jet. You’ve lamented, “How will I know where my people are if they don’t have an assigned jet?” You won’t be able to keep all of your belongings in the jet, so you will have to put of the pictures of your loved ones, and your documents onto the network, your laptop and your iPhone instead of storing them in your jet. It will be uncomfortable, you’ve explained, that you may have to sit in a different jet from day to day to complete your work. You may even have to sit near people you don’t know, and that could be uncomfortable as well.
We have heard these objections, yet have decided to stay at the head of the pack; we’ve got to cut unnecessary expenses. Please let me explain how we came to our decision. While we knew over the years that the utilization of our ever growing fleet of jets was fairly low – we could see the jets all lined up in the hanger unused – we just brushed it off as a cost of doing business. We just continued to assign a jet to each person as they joined the company. And hey, just about every one of our competition’s hanger was full of empty jets as well. After all, our budget included the cost of ten year leases on all these jets, and we own some of them as well, so they were viewed by most as “free”. To whom were we going to sell or sublet them? This economy is not a great market for used jets. There is also the matter of attracting and retaining top talent. We have to compete against companies that are still offering personal jets to their employees.
But I’ve commissioned some research by AgilQuest Corporation that have installed systems that reliably and unobtrusively measure that which we have never measured before: the actual use of our entire jet fleet. We’re using a technique that provides this data continuously, consistently and systematically over time, making it reliable and believable. This is in significant contrast to our old one-off surveys of jet usage, which you would contest as too short in duration, done manually, done at the wrong time of the year, done in the wrong hanger or for the wrong department and, in short, not believable. Now, there can be no denying the results: the utilization of our jet fleet is under 40%. That means that on any given day, our jets, your jets, are sitting on the tarmac unused while burning money and fuel and producing CO2 at unsustainable rates.
During our study, we came to the following realization: We spend our money in one of three ways – people, jets, and technology, in that order. For our 50,000 person company, we spend about $750 million on jets annually. With our current utilization of 40%, we waste $450,000,000 annually in cash, produce 120,000 metric TONS of C02 and burn 240 million KwH of energy unnecessarily! Once we saw these numbers, we realized that no amount of perceived productivity enhancement can justify this waste and environmental impact. In addition, you all know the pressure we’re under in this tough economy to reduce costs and the terrible unemployment rate in our country. As we looked for ways to cut costs, we decided to cut jets not jobs. Don’t you agree this is the right way to go?
Some have said, “It is not our culture here to share jets!” Let me inform you now, “It is not our culture here to waste money, degrade our planet, and add to our reliance on foreign energy!”
PS: The above memo can be transformed from fanciful to factual by changing just one word: Jets to Workspaces. All arguments presented are actually traditional views against new workplace strategies designed to improve utilization and reduce costs and increase workplace flexibility and mobility (hoteling, alternative officing, telework, etc.). All numbers and value propositions are actually for real estate, not jets!
PPS: Preferences vs. Effectiveness:
New workplace strategies may not be the first choice for your employees as it usually involves change. We humans tend to resist change, even if it is (eventually) good for us. In the words of Franklin Becker of Cornell’s IWSP, “…it is worth distinguishing between preferences and effectiveness. They are not always synonymous.” What people WANT and what the organization as a whole NEEDS to be effective are not always the same thing.