The rise of the flexible workspace is changing how people do business, with an impact not only on profitability, but also on the ability of firms to attract and retain talent
With the nature of work changing rapidly, the workplace is also evolving to keep pace.
Disruptive technology, booms in start-up and franchising culture, cooperative and agile working practices and the ever-present desire to keep costs in line have resulted in a sea change in how many businesses want to operate.
According to a report by real estate company JLL, almost a third of corporate real estate could be flexible workspace by 2030, with major implications not just for underlying costs, but for their ability to attract and retain the next generation of top talent.
Talent acquisition and ‘Generation Flex’
Being successful in business has always been about staying ahead of the curve, but when that curve is shifting on an almost daily basis the one thing that sets top companies apart from competitors is their people.
Tom Carroll, Head of EMEA Corporate Research at JLL, said work space is also a huge factor when attracting talent.
“Flexible office space helps to attract specific talent pools, particularly younger generations,” Carroll contends, “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.”
This is backed up by figures from the IWG Global Workspace Survey, which gathered the opinions of more than 15,000 business people in 80 countries. It found that when a prospective employee was faced with offers from two employers, a massive 80% would turn down the one that did not offer flexible working.
In the report’s preface, Mark Dixon, IWG founder and CEO, remarks: “It’s no surprise that 62% 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.
“The employees, this so-called ‘Generation Flex’ are calling the shots,” he adds.
Going green and corporate responsibility
Businesses are increasingly judged by their corporate and social responsibility, as well as the impact they have on the environment.
According to a survey carried out by Cone Communications, 75% of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for what they deem a “responsible” company.
One way of minimising a company’s negative impact on the environment while also helping to improve their work-life balance of staff is through flexible working environments.
For example, instead of having one, central location where staff have to commute to, flexible working allows firms to establish smaller, satellite offices closer to where talented staff are living. In essence, the company can go to the talent rather than expecting the talent to come to them.
The IWG survey reports that reducing the stress of commuting, “particularly when these would involve lengthy commutes in traffic or on crowded public transport, is a benefit both to businesses – whose workers arrive fresh and punctual – but also to staff.”
The report found that 75% of businesses say they are introducing flexible working to reduce commute times.
Saving on lease costs
Of course one of the biggest boons to business regarding flexible workspace is cost. For companies to be able to decide how much space they lease, and for how long, provides a level of freedom not previously available through traditional property rental agreements.
Statistics from Cushman & Wakefield found that in London for example, the average cost of renting flexible workspace is more than half the cost of conventional space.
The IWG report also found that flexible working is seen by businesses as a driver to success (79%) and specifically 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.
Download the full Global Workspace Survey