Sometimes change needs a push and while we were moving toward a more hybridised approach to work and office space in recent years, the pandemic created a greater need and accelerated that change exponentially.
Where there was lingering doubt about workforce efficacy in remote circumstances, we now know that, for many businesses, it is certainly possible to operate, and be highly productive, with a diffuse workforce that can choose where and how they work.
This, however, does not represent the end of the office. As we know from our love affair with Zoom, you cannot create culture, build teams, ideate, effectively train, or truly collaborate remotely. Even a remote workforce craves the team environment, human connection, and camaraderie that an office base or local city hub can evoke.
You don't need to take an all-or-nothing approach - you can have it both ways. With careful forethought, a hybridised model can allow you to remain flexible and reduce costs in doing so.
Hot desking and hybrid working go hand in hand. But what is hot-desking?
Hot-desking is an ad hoc workspace system allowing your workforce to reserve a non-permanent desk from which to plug in and work. Some businesses allow employees to book their space via a calendarised rota system.
Hot-desking offers a greater degree of convenience and flexibility to your workforce. Such a system creates opportunities for your staff to interact with different teams and employees to facilitate greater collaboration, innovation, and social interaction.
A hot-desking system also means that the number of desks can be reduced to meet the actual number of people that are likely to be in the office on any given day, as opposed to the total number of staff, thus reducing your overall office footprint (and therefore annual running costs). Given that offices are usually the second largest cost, after staff, reducing the size of the office should lead to significant savings.
A well-implemented rota system prevents staff from choosing to come to the office on the same days and ensures a policy of fair use is maintained and each member of staff gets his or her time in the office as needed.
Best of all, you don't need to create proprietary software to implement a rota system. There are several low-cost apps and platforms like Deputy, Planday, and Duome that can effortlessly manage a rota system.
How you build your rota system should be dictated by your workforces’ preferences and the overall business need. Segmenting your teams into various cohorts can greatly help determine the remote or in-office split for your system.
Serviced Office Membership Packages
A good way to significantly reduce your businesses’ occupational footprint is to make use of additional membership packages that many serviced office providers are currently offering.
Many serviced office providers will allow your business to take a small serviced office, for a certain number of desks, but grant a larger number of memberships at a reduced or no extra cost. With the membership, all staff would have access to the building and communal and lounge / coworking areas. This would deal with any overspill on days where the serviced office unit is at capacity. Often, membership would also allow staff to have access to other buildings within the providers portfolio.
If used wisely and in conjunction with a rota system (see above), your business can retain its present staffing levels, reduce its occupational footprint, and provide staff with more choice, flexibility, and freedom.
To embrace hybrid working it is important to consider an adaptable and modular approach to your office fit-out, allowing you to keep your space fresh and easy to re-configure, but without significant cost, as your needs change. For example, you might want to reduce dedicated meeting rooms and increase collaboration or breakout spaces, to boost interaction between staff as they to return to the office.
Such an approach works well if your business is committed to a long-term lease and will help your business adapt to the changing demands of the office environment and mitigate the need for overspill space. Additionally, if your business pivots or its primary purpose changes, you can adapt and evolve fast.
New entrants like Desana, LiquidSpace, and FlowSpace offer businesses uber-flexibility in the emerging on-demand co-working space allowing them book desks at various locations on any given day without a commitment.
On-demand space allows your business to reduce its occupational footprint and opt for a smaller office, in the knowledge that staff can easily work nearby on days where the office is full. An added benefit is that staff can work closer to their homes if required and businesses can establish ad hoc satellite offices depending on the need.
Happy Staff = Happy Business
The Great Resignation post-Covid has meant that attracting and retaining talent is more challenging than ever before.
Many people have left large metropolises in favour of a calmer rural lifestyle. They may have also decided to be more present for their families or have childcare needs that take priority.
Businesses have had to adapt to these changes overnight and many workers now consider it their right to be able to work from home at least 1 or 2 days in the week. Whist there may be some obvious benefits in forcing staff to return to the office full time, this may turn out to be a false economy as employees and potential recruits gravitate to more flexible competitors.
Implementing a forward-thinking hybrid working model can help businesses retain their key workers, show a willingness to meet in the middle and create a competitive edge when it comes to recruitment.