Post pandemic future is bright for flexible workspace.

April 30, 2020

An ‘opinion piece’ from our Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Vine.

Work will never be the same. The pandemic has forced organisations to adapt to the conditions and as such a ‘new normal’ is evolving.

Having a workforce ‘work from home’ has been a big experiment for most organisations. It has given an opportunity for organisations to measure and manage ‘flexi-working’.

Flexi-working has for many organisations either been an aspiration or something frightening. Aspirational firms have been unsure of the effect on the status quo: afraid the experiment might decrease productivity. However, the opposite has been the experience of many.

Large organisations have been grappling with demands of a new generation of workers and moving towards a strategy of agile working as a way of attracting and retaining the best talent.

With advances in technology and a greater focus on collaboration, having teams work outside of the core head office has been on the horizon for years but social distancing guidelines and government requests for people to work from home have made remote working a reality a few years ahead of time.

If embraced, this provides a real opportunity for organisations to overhaul their corporate real estate strategies and significantly reduce their footprint and the associated costs. Businesses with leases coming to an end in the next few years now have an opportunity to do things differently.

The projected savings will be music to the ears of CFO’s the world over, but productivity and culture are also key considerations.

Working from home has its own challenges as many have experienced during the global social experiment brought on by COVID-19 and we are yet to understand the lost opportunities as a result of the removal of ‘accidental collaboration’ otherwise known as water-cooler conversations.

There is also the detrimental impact of isolation to consider. People generally like being around other people, it is face to face conversations that often spark ideas, solutions and creativity and businesses will need to consider how they facilitate these interactions away from a head office setting.

That is where we see an enormous opportunity for businesses of all sizes to partner with flexible workspace operators. They can provide a familiar environment for consultants, teams and even entire businesses in a very efficient way.

If there is one thing a global pandemic teaches us it is that being more adaptable make a business more resilient. A business being resilient means having a more fluid approach to business activities.

When businesses are small and growing, a flexible solution allows them to upsize their desk requirements in a manageable and efficient way, the same is true for organisations seeking agility.

Flexible workspaces allow organisations to take the minimum requirement of space for core personnel and hire team or project space in a more ‘à la carte’ way. A flexible workspace managed for the organisation can be ‘home from home’ for those workers that need to get together occasionally.

In fact, flexible workspaces are a great solution to those companies that want to maintain their company culture, while encouraging some home working. The flexible workspace becomes a focus for interdependent and collaborative activities and the home office for the more focussed activities.

Working from home 5 days a week has for many been a lovely change, but for many it has brought an increased sense of isolation from social interactions with close colleagues. For others an office set up of laptop on a kitchen table or sofa has put ergonomic strain of their physiology, not to mention the proximity of fridge distractions, and lack of movement affecting them physically.

The mental and physical strain of this voluntary solitary confinement has been quite stressful for many.

Organisations that have a priority for their workforce’s health and wellbeing will need to plan and manage a mixed ‘flexi-working / hot-desking’ workforce strategy. We anticipate the attractions that smaller businesses find in flexible workspace will become more and more attractive to larger corporate organisations.

Many will have little to know knowledge of the benefits, and many preconceived ideas of beige, soulless, boxes of the global serviced office providers or the cool packing crates and ‘buzz’ of startup ‘coworking’ spaces. But there are providers that challenge those perceptions.

Great flexible workspace providers include corporate grade internet, bright contemporary and professional interiors, in convenient to access locations. They provide dedicated customer service representatives that double as receptionist, meeting room event planners and admin assistants. They can even provide turn-key independent solutions backed by the service provision.

Flexible workspaces charge for the space that’s used for desks with a proportional charge of the other facilities (kitchen, bathrooms and reception) shared across tenants. For large corporates that removes a lot of unused and underused facilities in a large slice of square metre cost.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the pandemic provides an inventive new way to manage workforces in the future.