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Here’s what you need to know today:
- WeWork Launches Small Business Initiative
- Who Will Return To The Office?
- Businesses Need To Adjust Benefits For Remote Workers
- London Workers Are Concerned About Post-pandemic Work
- The Role Of The Office Is Changing
- The Uncertainty Of The Office Industry
WeWork Launches Small Business Initiative
WeWork has launched a new program that aims to accommodate small businesses in the UK after spending over a year trying to get back on track in the wake of its failed IPO and the pandemic.
The Growth Campus initiative will offer small companies an entrepreneurial workspace, allowing them to take a break from remote working arrangements.
It will operate virtually through subsidized spaces within WeWork’s offices, with its main hub being located at WeWork Aldwych House and other locations spread across London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Over the summer, WeWork was bullish about their current business model, maintaining their prices instead of accommodating lower rates to retain their clients, which many other operators have done.
WeWork spokespeople also said they will continue prioritizing flexibility and be open to working with their members to figure out the best way to utilize their spaces, with no indication they would adjust pricing.
“Working from home has stifled productivity, collaboration and creativity, and as many companies begin to think about returning to the office, Growth Campus can offer the network and workspace designed to help businesses thrive,” said Mathieu Proust, General Manager at WeWork UK.
Who Will Return To The Office?
The workforce is slowly entering the post-pandemic era as vaccines are expected to be available to the general public by the end of the summer.
Now, companies are faced with their next challenge: should workers come back to the office full-time?
If business leaders have learned anything over the past year, it’s that employees are capable of being just as productive (if not more) working from home. However, research has indicated that some workers miss the atmosphere of the office.
According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Co. late last year, many professions are expected to move forward with a combination of both remote and in-person work arrangements.
Of course, this depends on the occupation. Those within the professional services, finance and IT world saw little to no loss in productivity when working remotely.
However, tasks that are easily performed in-person, such as mentoring, coaching and training, will likely need an office in some form.
There are still other factors to take into consideration when deciding who needs to return to the office and how to balance hybrid arrangements.
One way to guarantee that there is a healthy balance between in-person and remote work is to schedule regular, informal virtual meetings and transition those to in-person once it is safe. Doing so keeps everyone on the same page and ensures both employees and employers that they are working in tandem.
Just a short time ago, lavish amenities were necessary for an attractive office environment. However, the idea of happy hours with colleagues now seems far out of reach.
How workers view their own wellness and health has dramatically changed over the past year, and companies need to be ready to accommodate these new demands.
Prior to the pandemic, workplace amenities focused on the in-office experience. But now that employees are largely working from home and may continue to do so, companies need to adjust their offerings to better cater to these work arrangements.
Mental and physical health is a major priority of the workplace today, so businesses should offer benefits that help decrease stress and improve work conditions.
One way to do this is to offer employees access to virtual fitness platforms or meditation apps. For example, Pinterest moved their normal exercise classes to online so workers can still get in physical activity at home.
Financial health is also an important factor of supporting overall wellbeing. In fact, the National Endowment for Financial Education found that four in five Americans are stressed about their financial situation.
That’s why benefits that offer employees financial support, such as discounts, savings on home appliances, stipends for office supplies, access to childcare services and more, can greatly improve their wellbeing.
Lastly, flexibility will continue to play an important role in the workplace for the foreseeable future. Many workers have found it to be the preferable way of working, particularly those who may be juggling parental responsibilities.
A new report from Future Strategy Club has found that Brits are worried that finding the right job after the pandemic will be increasingly difficult.
The data revealed that 54% of Londoners are concerned about the future of their career prospects. An additional 33% stated that, while they plan to come into the office as soon as it’s safe, they wonder whether their career progression will still be halted.
“Office workers are concerned that the dispersion of talent will lead to reduced networking opportunities and job openings. This is set to give rise to a new way of working; creating a nomad generation as businesses aren’t tied to desks and location,” the report stated.
Even more, 60% of Brits say they believe the workplace will need to learn how to adapt to the new norms of the workplace, or they will leave behind their traditional work life for freelancing positions.
Additionally, many Londoners noted that they moved back to their family home during the lockdown, which could indicate more will do so if remote working becomes readily adopted.
In the meantime, a survey by recruitment firm ManpowerGroup found that Britain was one of a few European states where employers will cut down on workers during the first quarter of this year, rather than gain new hires. This indicates that it would be a while before the UK’s employment rate recovers.
Cushman & Wakefield’s most recent installment of its report trilogy entitled “New Perspectives: From Pandemic to Performance” offers insight into how the past year will continue to impact the future of work arrangements.
The report obtained feedback from 32 owners, occupiers and placemakers to have an understanding of how the purpose of office space is going to change once it is safe for workers to return.
While remote working has been the ideal arrangement for many employees, some have expressed wanting to come back to the office due to the distractions and fatigue of working from home.
The study has indicated that workers will likely continue working remotely at least two days each week. But how in-office and remote working arrangements will be balanced will vary depending on each individual’s role.
With the adoption of a hybrid work model, companies will need to identify how space will be utilized in the future.
Rather than be a place for employees to come into five days a week for all things work related, it will need to be reconfigured to better support in-person meetings and collaborative sessions.
Additionally, Cushman & Wakefield’s 2020 leasing data was generally down, with short-term renewals making up a bigger portion of deals. This indicates that long-term leases could either be postponed or adjusted to help alleviate risks.
The Uncertainty Of The Office Industry
Analysts are still uncertain about when people will return to the office, how much office space will be necessary in the future and what these spaces will even look like.
One thing that is clear is 2021 will be a time of trying to rebuild losses experienced during the past year.
According to Kevin Thorpe, chief economist at Cushman & Wakefield, companies are mostly in wait-and-see mode until the state of the office industry is less murky. With remote working on the uprise, companies are trying to navigate what their next big move will be.
However, despite some reports stating that people are leaving metropolitan areas for suburbs due to remote working arrangements, Thorpe believes that businesses most likely will stay in CBDs.
A report from Green Street found that job growth is slipping while real estate interest is growing, which could mean challenges are ahead for the office industry.
Fortunately for the office market, Thorpe added that he believes the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that the industry can begin to rebound.
This will still take time. Rents are still expected to decline in 2021, but Cushman & Wakefield anticipates that rents will bottom in the first half of 2022.
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