The rise of the flexible workspace

The way firms do business and manage talent is changing.

Disruptive technology, booms in start-up and franchising culture, agile working practices and the ever-present desire to keep costs down are all influencing how businesses operate.

And as more people work on-the-go, the workplace is rapidly evolving to keep up with the pace — and meet prospective employees' demands.

According to IWG Global Workspace Survey data, 83 per cent of those looking to accept a job offer would turn down the one that did not involve a flexible working arrangement. The survey polled more than 15,000 business people in 80 countries.

This group of working professionals, dubbed "Generation Flex", are now calling the shots — remarks IWG founder and chief executive officer Mark Dixon in the report's preface.

"It's no surprise that 85 per cent of businesses worldwide currently have a flexible workspace policy. There has been a power shift. In many sectors, bosses no longer dictate what a regular working day looks like."

Co-working culture

And a report by commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) states that almost a third of corporate real estate could be flexible workspace by 2030. 

With companies rapidly jumping on the flexible workspace bandwagon and giants such as IWG continuing their rapid global expansion, the prediction seems extremely close to being true. This brings major implications not just for underlying costs, but for the ability to attract and retain the next generations of top talent.

JLL's head of EMEA Corporate Research Tom Carroll adds that the work space is also a huge factor when attracting talent. After all, to stay ahead of their competitors, successful businesses remain attentive to the needs of their people.

Adds Carroll: "Flexible office space helps to attract specific talent pools who tend to favour a less traditional corporate office setting while meeting the requirements of specific teams in areas such as digital or product innovation."

Ensuring sustainable development

A survey by US-based media company Cone Communications revealed that 75 per cent of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for what they deem a "responsible" company.

One way of minimising a company's carbon footprint is through flexible working environments that do away with the one central location concept — allowing for the establishment of smaller, satellite offices closer to where core members of staff are living.  

Reduced commuting times and distances can also have the added benefit of strengthening the relationship between employee and employer: workers have a better chance of arriving at work on time, and they can avoid the long-term grind of stressful commutes. 

Effectively, the sustainability factor here is that a more agile working situation will help reduce employee churn and increase the likelihood of employees remaining with the same employer for longer.

Win-win situation

The benefits of a flexible workspace are not limited to just employees.

Flexible working is increasingly seen by businesses as a driver to success. Many are using it to reduce capital and operational expenditure or choosing flexible working locations to help them shed unnecessary assets, manage risk and consolidate their portfolio.

Statistics from global commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield found that in London, for instance, the average cost of renting flexible workspace is more than half the cost of conventional space.

For companies to be able to decide how much space they lease, and for how long, flexspace provides a level of freedom not previously available through traditional property rental agreements.

In the long run, this can also help such businesses expedite their regional expansion and enter new overseas markets with less concerns about the capital and operational expenditure required. By leveraging the growth of co-working networks, these businesses can also idenitify potential locations more easily. 

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Source: Business Times, 15 July 2019