Businesses find themselves in a time of political, economic, and social uncertainty. All these stressors have impacted companies, no matter how established they are. Startups just finding their feet are even worse off – for one, trying to attract investors who are uncertain about the future is no joke. Another factor is the location of office space vs. employees.
Full-time vs. Flexi-time
Companies are using this time to rethink their operations and where they can cut costs. Others are simply scaling down. During the Covid-19 lockdown, when employees began working remotely, some had no trouble balancing home and work life. In contrast, others felt the overwhelming “work-home conflict.” Regardless, the situation spawned what is now called the remote or work-from-home (WFH) mindset. Since business operations began returning to normal, many workers found giving up their freedom to return to a full-time in-person job less appealing. An important factor is the headache and cost of constantly commuting. Another element is growing awareness and concern for the environment and the impact of Co2 emissions. Many see working remotely – i.e., not using transport, at least not daily, as a way to do their part in reducing the global ecological crisis.
For business owners, employees considering quitting for whatever reason is a talent risk, especially those who have been at a company for a long time and have amassed experience and expertise. A McKinsey & Co. survey found that employees want flexibility. A Reimagine Work global survey of over 5,000 full-time employees found that 30% would consider changing jobs if their current company returned to a full on-site work model. Also, 50% said they want the WFH option for three or more days a week. Fifty-two percent of employees want their employers to adopt “flexible hybrid virtual-working models” that allow working remotely and being on-premises.
For companies, hybrid models can maximize using talent wherever it resides, improves performance, and saves on expenses –for owners and employees. Concerning performance, WFH proved to many companies that employee productivity increased, dispelling skeptics’ concerns. In addition, a PwC December 2020 US Remote Work Survey found that off-premises work was an overwhelming success for employers and employees. Eighty-three percent of employers said the shift to remote work was profitable, compared to 73% in PwC’s June 2020 survey.
Real estate transitioning
Given the above, companies face a dilemma. If employees prefer hybrid systems, is it worth maintaining, bankrolling, and usually being tethered to a multi-year lease for office space? This question is especially applicable to startups who may have yet to have big HQs even before the pandemic or were at the point of looking into renting offices. The bottom line is considering occupancy of cube space vs. wasted work areas. So, what is the most viable solution? What real estate now defines as “flex space” offers employees and employers the best of both worlds.
What is flex space? Neat defines it as dedicated workspace companies can rent on flexible terms. As a result, you have the benefits of an office without a traditional office’s permanency or constant overheads.
Benefits of flex space include:
- Contract flexibility – length of agreement terms.
- Co-Working and shared spaces – a sense of teamwork and community plus improved networking opportunities.
- Ability to share facilities – cost-saving.
- Lower startup capital – no colossal investment to get an office up and running. Little to no initial costs – especially pertinent for startups.
- Multi-functional – use space as required for multiple purposes; easily accommodate staff size changes or project needs.
- Scalability – sign contracts or grow according to business circumstances.
Are companies buying into this? Again, back to PWC statistics, 87% of executives anticipate changing their real-estate strategy over the next year. Plans include opening more satellite offices or consolidating office space in premier sites. While some businesses anticipate needing more space, others expect to reduce. Either way, companies plan to change the status quo and invest in hybrid remote work models.
Employee satisfaction is key to business success. As such, employers must consider their requirements and demands in the new norm. Employees have tasted the WFH advantages – more freedom, no traffic, or a more accessible work-life balance. Hybrid and co-shared workspaces can help companies wishing to keep their greatest assets, their employees. They enable upholding team dynamics and the work culture and preventing a disconnection between remote and on-site teams. In addition, a hybrid model can bring happiness if done correctly, especially in a way that reduces current employee uncertainty.