The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Five Ways to Review Your Real Estate for Flexible Working

Five Ways to Review Your Real Estate for Flexible Working
05 May 2022
 

For anyone still in doubt: flexible working is the future, not a fad, says Karl Breeze from Matrix Booking.

In this opinion piece, Karl lays out his recommendations for reviewing workspaces so that they are fit for purpose for a hybrid working future.

Karl Breeze is the Chief Executive Office at Matrix Booking. He is a technologist, cloud computing evangelist and entrepreneur. His passion centres around the ‘new-normal’ office environment and helping organisations to adapt to and embrace the changes and challenges the global pandemic has presented.

 

Five Steps to Future-Proof Your Workplace

 

When it comes to the home-office timeshare, employees are – by and large – content, and even the most reluctant of CEOs are bang to rights. The next step is to make sure that this new dynamic is being presented and developed in the best way possible.

So much thought leadership and prospective innovation has been targeted towards at-home transitions, to this end. But what of the office?

If the brand’s HQ is no longer the hub of all activity, what is it?

At the other side of the COVID tunnel, there’s a need for organisations to review their real estate, and reassess what these new-look spaces are for…

 

"Hybrid isn’t just a gateway drug to “laptop on the sofa”. It is a legitimate wish to create a balance where people can work in both spaces effectively."

 

1. A Space to Work

 

That’s right – before you get too far ahead of yourself, remember that the artist formerly known as "office" isn’t completely dead.

Recent research has revealed the number of employment tribunal decisions relating to flexible working has increased by 52 per cent in the past year. When it feels like employee power has shot through the roof, and workers have evidence of strong performance data to propel that rocket, there might be an understandable leaning among decision-makers to give up on the office-as-workspace model altogether. This would be a mistake.

Additional figures suggest that 88 per cent of workers genuinely crave a hybrid dynamic. Hybrid isn’t just a gateway drug to “laptop on the sofa”. It is a legitimate wish to create a balance where people can work in both spaces effectively.

Your real estate may no longer be a sea of static desks with nameplates attached. But a flexible-use space paradise comprising hot desks, booths, informal sofa settings or even pub-style benches should certainly be on the agenda.

 

2. A Space for Onboarding

 

We all know someone who went through the challenge of starting a new job, remotely, during the pandemic. Fortunately, in many cases, businesses went the extra mile of ensuring they were made to feel welcomed, informed and embedded into the fabric of their organisations.

However, with the best will in the world, it wasn’t the same as stepping into your new office on your first day.

Not only do organisations need to retain a strong sense of atmosphere, culture, friendship and education in the workplace for these moments, but they actually now have an opportunity to build the space around this phase as part of their real estate reviews.

To make the office a perfect area for interviews, onboarding, training and progression reviews is one of the best ways to keep the former essence of that space alive. In its former life that office was where people became most directly affiliated with the brand – a concept that still holds sway now.

 

Image

 

3.  A Space for Promotion

 

In the same vein as channelling a brand culture through the workspace for new hires, the same applies to visitors from outside. Whether it’s prospective customers, business partners, shareholders or miscellaneous visitors, the office is still the best way to exude a company message and vibe.

Now, without the need to dilute that atmosphere with desk capacity needs, there is an opportunity to reimagine spaces for this purpose. Presentations, meetings, pitches and even gatherings can be considered through the use of interactive and digitised rooms, higher-tech media systems, or more open-plan layouts.

Where a sea of heads once sat at desks, it wouldn’t be the best first impression to outsiders, to now just witness a sea of empty chairs. Think about what they would be impressed to see instead.

 

4. A Space for Collaboration

 

As part of that aforementioned 88 per cent who crave a hybrid balance between home and office, there also needs to be a consideration about what people are coming into the office for.

Some will simply be looking to freshen up their surroundings to do the same core tasks. But many will have identified where the at-home experience is lacking slightly.

It may be easier to focus in isolation, but it’s easier to collaborate in person. As such, converting the workplace into a space for meetings, idea sharing and more organic conversations would be an appropriate transformation of real estate.

The office in its traditional former state was rarely geared up for such instinctive and seamless collaboration, such was the need to fulfil capacity requirements. Here lies an opportunity to change that ergonomic outlook, and to give those hybrid demanders what they’re really looking for.

 

5. A Space for Data to Flourish

 

Before any of these first four review stages are undertaken, there needs to be an initial clarity around how to transform the office from what it is today, to what it should be in the future. There could be an inclination to rely on instinct or guesswork, presuming there is nothing more than that to guide such a nascent trend.

But there absolutely is.

Utilisation and occupancy data should be the informing guide to any decisions made; crucially, because every company’s scenario will be different. The volume of in-office workers could change according to the season, days of the week, specific ongoing projects, new hires, and many other variables. Keeping on top of that flexibility, manually, is likely to lead to missed opportunities and an unclear overview of your real estate’s purpose.

Instead, addressing each of the previous points in turn: businesses can utilise workflow management tools and security solutions to ensure hot deskers are given safe and seamless access; meeting room and boardroom booking tools can account for any training, onboarding or collaborative work that needs to be done in-house; and visitor management systems can guide outside arrivals into the new-look space.

There is data to inform every step of companies’ real estate reassessments. When moving your HQ into the next generation of hybrid work, it makes sense to do so with the help of the next generation of digital innovation.

Picture: a photograph of two people sitting next to each other at a desk, both smiling. One is using a laptop. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Karl Breeze | Published 05 May 2022

Share



Related Articles

Employment Engagement is Now Top Priority

Employee engagement is now the top priority for global businesses and nearly two-thirds are investing in their offices, according to a new global survey by ISS. The...

 Read Full Article
IWFM Research Highlights Flexibility and Personalisation as the Key to the Future of the Office

New research released by IWFM and MillerKnoll has revealed that most companies remain uncertain about what their post-pandemic workplaces will look like. For the...

 Read Full Article
Flexible Office Space to be Trialled in Tesco Supermarkets

IWG, whose brands include Regus and Basepoint, is to pilot flexible office space within a Tesco supermarket in New Malden. Excess retail space at the South London...

 Read Full Article
Industrial Design – Bratislava’s Heating Plant Turned Co-Working Space

The Jurkovič Heating Plant was a central part of Bratislava’s industrial centre and has been extensively renovated to preserve as many industrial design elements...

 Read Full Article
x+why Opens its First Suburban Office Hub for Home Workers

Flexible workspace provider x+why has opened its first suburban site in Chiswick, potentially indicating upcoming trends for regional hubs rather than...

 Read Full Article
Landmark Hosts Panel Debate on the Future of Work  

Adapting to remote working, becoming comfortable with disruptive technologies and creating a friction-free workplace were all on the agenda at flexible office space...

 Read Full Article
The Best Co-Working Spaces in the UK

As the UK awaits the final stage of lockdown easing, research suggests workers are keen to swap home working for a more conventional office setup. Despite the obvious...

 Read Full Article
Post-COVID Working – What’s the Future of Co-Working Spaces? 

During initial national lockdowns, co-working companies incurred losses along with several other businesses, but what’s the future of these flexible...

 Read Full Article
The New Office Dynamic – What's Expected?

More than a third of US and UK office workers describe the prospect of going back to the office as the equivalent of going out to meet with friends, according to a...

 Read Full Article
HSBC Managers to Hot Desk Instead of Having Private Offices

HSBC’s Chief Executive has told a national newspaper that an entire executive floor of its Canary Wharf office is now to be used as meeting rooms and collaborative...

 Read Full Article