The Future of Work: Workplace Trends Emerging from Covid-19
The commercial property and co-working sectors effectively came to a standstill as organizations scrambled to transfer operations from office to home setups, as the switch to remote working ushered in a new era for the future of work. Here I discuss what workplace trends are most likely to emerge post-pandemic for businesses.
With most of the workforce having settled into a new kind of normal, CFOs already see the cost benefits of flexibility around remote teams, with 74% planning to move at least 5% into permanent remote positions post–Covid-19. One recent study estimates that up to 30% of the global workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021, a trend that reinforces how important flexibility is to the future of work.
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We predict that an inevitable post-pandemic strategy will be the move to a more agile solution around office space. Companies will want to use cash more constructively as they rebuild, with a focus on re-establishing supply chains and re-hiring employees rather than on large capital expenditures and signing leases on buildings for the long term with no flexibility.
Flexible offices are already supporting businesses during the pandemic. While some have temporarily closed, many have made a move to remote working and linked members to community platforms to keep in touch and share information. Other spaces have started providing additional services to help their members navigate uncertain times through financial guidance, HR assistance and private office space. Key trends right now include the following:
1) Virtual office tours. Virtual office space tours have become mainstream with Covid-19 restrictions pausing on-site visits or travel. Whether through Zoom or Skype, businesses are still planning for the future by hunting for office space during lockdown. We have seen a 75% increase in clients doing virtual office tours, providing a 360-degree view of the space that enables prospective tenants to have a fully immersive experience.
2) Virtual office address. Although teams are working from home, businesses are benefiting from the services provided by virtual offices to help with day-to-day operations, such as reception services, a business mailbox, and mail management. As well as being budget-friendly and flexible, there are several additional benefits to choosing a virtual office space.
3) Rent-free periods. Businesses can plan office moves without paying for space that won’t be used during quarantine. Some operators are offering new members up to two months of rent-free occupation and flexible leasing arrangements to support businesses as they return to the office. Other providers are offering discounts, like 15% off for the first three months.
4) Office hygiene services. Businesses needing support during the crisis have been using private office space to accommodate team members unable to work from home. Workspaces have responded by implementing stringent cleaning measures, including cleaning services every few hours, hospital-grade disinfectant across all surfaces, and social distancing office setups that provide adequate spacing between workstations.
3 requirements for choosing post-Covid office space
As lockdown measures begin to ease and businesses start returning to work, a focus on financial flexibility will affect how businesses choose office space. Here are three trends to consider as you reopen.
1) Virtual meeting support. Self-isolation has seen most companies embrace videoconferencing technology out of necessity, and the trend is here to stay. As more companies return to work, many will be looking for office space that can support the latest videoconferencing tech and provide support to teams using virtual meeting rooms.
2) Flexible leases. Office space requirements immediately post-lockdown compared with requirements six months after lockdown will be very different as companies scale and start to grow. Choosing office space that facilitates the flexibility to downsize or upsize at short notice is key, and flexible leases mean you pay only for the space you use.
3) Business continuity support. More companies will place a greater focus on business continuity going forward. When work starts to return to relative normality, businesses will be looking for ways to implement social distancing without disrupting teams. To do this, flexible schedules and shared office spaces closer to home could be part of the solution. In the long term, businesses looking for backup office space or satellite offices to use in case of an emergency will turn to flexible workspaces.
John Williams is Head of Marketing at Instant Offices, a global workspace innovation company founded in 1999 in the U.K. The Instant Group has more than 12,000 flexible workspaces worldwide, with clients in more than 150 countries. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +44-0-203-350-1251.
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