What are you going to do with all that extra office space? A new study from business Relevant Products/Services-software maker Citrix Systems finds that, by 2020, businesses will be able to employ the same number of workers but with 17 percent less office space.

The Workplace of the Future report said that offices will provide seven desks, on average, for every ten office workers, and that each worker will access the corporate IT network Relevant Products/Services from an average of six different computing devices. Within two years, the report predicts, organizations can expect to reduce workspace by seven percent.

'Something People Do'

The average estimate is actually as low as six desks for every ten workers in some countries, such as Singapore, the Netherlands, the U.S. and the U.K. It's a bit higher in Japan at 8.77 desks per ten workers, 7.95 for South Korea and 7.9 for Germany.

Whether or not businesses keep that empty space, the report predicts that nearly every organization will design office spaces to be more appealing, to stimulate creativity, and to encourage collaboration Relevant Products/Services by allowing workers to work from wherever they choose.

In fact, the report said that work is becoming "something people do, not a place people go."

Mick Hollison, vice president of integrated marketing and strategy at Citrix, explained that "organizations are encouraging people to operate outside of the traditional workplace on their own personal devices to improve the bottom line." This in turn help make the company more responsive, more productive and more cost-effective by reducing real estate and device management expenses.

'Too Conservative'?

The report found that a quarter of all organizations worldwide have already embraced this mobile Relevant Products/Services workstyle, and 83 percent will do so within two years. For organizations, mobile workstyles offer workshifting that creates a more flexible workspace, lowers employee-related costs, and helps attract and keep top talent. Eighty percent of organizations have already seen cost-related benefits from implementing workshifting and bring-your-own-device (BYOD Relevant Products/Services) policies.

For employees, workshifting provides more flexibility and productivity, less commuting time, more time for customers, and 55 percent said they have a better work/life balance.

We asked analyst Laura DiDio of Information Technology Intelligence Corp. if the Citrix predictions reflect her assessment. She said that, generally speaking, they did, and, if anything, "the desk space reduction estimate could in fact be too conservative."

She pointed out that some office jobs, such as banktellers or hospital administrators, are unlikely to benefit from telecommuting, but other occupations, such as services, consulting or sales, will.

However, DiDio noted that the report didn't specify which six devices would be used, and added that the number "feels high," given that most workers will need a laptop and/or desktop, a smartphone, possibly a personal phone that has work access, and perhaps a tablet. That's five devices, at most.

The report was conducted by Vanson Bourne for Citrix in August, and was based on interviews with 1,900 senior IT professionals worldwide from a range of industries.