In the war for talent, savvy employers will have to shift their thinking if they are to hire the right people.
When we talk about flexible workspaces, we often reflect on the bricks, design, breakout spaces and, of course, the hospitality. But rarely do we talk about how they are changing workplace culture and enabling flexible working.
In response to years of tireless campaigning, it was announced by the government in December 2022 that all employees have the right to ask for flexible working from day one of their employment. Of course, this takes many guises – from compressed hours to working closer to home.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many offices closed overnight. For businesses lagging behind the curve, this meant their employees had to stop working because they were not equipped with laptops and the technology was not there to support remote working. At the same time, more agile companies were able to continue as usual.
Over the past year, our clients have seen a shift in users. It is not only the SMEs occupying their spaces, but also corporate project teams and individuals that want somewhere to work outside the home but close to home.
The sector as a whole is booming, but we are seeing the most significant shift outside London. This not only helps businesses retain and attract staff but also supports local economies to thrive.
Recent research by AI company Placemake.io and geolocation platform Visitor Insights has found that the flexible working trend – with people working at home or closer to home – has seen suburban and small towns thrive. Places such as Margate, Marlow and Matlock have seen over 30% more activity during the working week.
This is something we have seen, too. As a technology company, we have always supported and advocated flexible working. It works for some teams in our business and not for others. Our customer-service team members like to be together and use our hub in Hampshire; our sales and marketing team members, meanwhile, are based as far apart as Kent and Wrexham, so commuting into our flexible workspace in London allows them to work collaboratively.
There are now so many ways to enable flexible working – from day desk bookings to hybrid co-working memberships and meeting rooms. Fast, secure WiFi gives employees the choice they need in locations across the country. Further still, we are seeing increasing numbers of corporate satellite offices, and there is technology available to enable a dedicated line to ensure cyber-security requirements are met.
Being flexible does not need to be difficult. By their very nature, flexible workspaces are agile and responsive. Many of our clients adapt their offer both physically and digitally to adjust to the change in workplace cultural practices and client demands.
Technology exists to make our lives easier and, subsequently, there are tools to enable communication and monitor working patterns. Landlords looking to bolt on a flexible workspace offer can essentially outsource their property needs and requirements to an operator.
With a recession looming, the flexible workspace sector will continue to grow – and in the war for talent, savvy employers will have to shift their thinking if they are to hire the right people.
For many, a workplace is preferable, but this needs to work for them. It is not the hour commute; it is somewhere local – and a flexible workspace aids this and provides that social aspect, too. It is a no-brainer.
This article first featured in Property Week.