As the hybrid shift accelerates, more people than ever are spending part of each week outside the corporate HQ. However, remote working doesn’t have to happen at home. In fact, there are good reasons why flexspace is a better bet for business.
As Covid-19 restrictions ease globally and vaccination programmes breathe life into workplaces, businesses are welcoming a new normal. Employees around the world have discovered they prefer life without an arduous daily commute, and employers are waking up to the advantages of a more flexible future.
Why hybrid working?
The hybrid model – an approach that allows employees to spend some time working between home, at a flexible workplace and at a corporate HQ – has been adopted by businesses as diverse as Google, Ford and PwC in the wake of the pandemic.
Not only do 85% of people feel they can be productive anywhere according to Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021, hybrid work models also empower firms to rethink their spending on office space, downsizing this to shore up the bottom line at a time of economic uncertainty.
What’s more, embracing the hybrid approach can significantly cut the carbon footprint of a business: reducing employees’ commutes is a simple but effective way to support ESG goals. Altogether, it’s clear there are a variety of powerful drivers inspiring businesses to rethink how they operate, and franchisers plentiful reasons to opt for flexible workspace solutions.
The need for flexible workspace
It’s worth noting, however, that forward-looking leaders have already recognised the need for an alternative to home working: the case for a ‘third location’ that’s close to home yet offers the advantages of a well-equipped office environment.
So far in 2021, IWG has signed a raft of new enterprise deals with prestigious firms including NTT and Standard Chartered bank. Such partnerships have seen more than two million new customers added to its global network of flexible workspaces to date this year.
IWG’s franchise business has also gone from strength to strength in 2021. It saw a staggering 350% rise in the number of new flexspace locations signed up by franchise partners in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2020.
Franchise partners recognise the strong potential of the flexible workspace market, and they have every reason to be confident of businesses’ growing interest in the sector.
Here, we explore five reasons why firms will, increasingly, include flexspace as part of their real estate strategy.
- Clearer work-life boundaries
Less commuting ostensibly means more ‘me time’ for workers – but home working also has a downside.
Research has found that being based at home often means staff work for longer than they would at the office. A report from Hays shows that 52% of remote workers in the UK are spending up to 10 hours extra per week on professional tasks, compared with pre-pandemic schedules.
For employees, the advantage of access to local flexspace is the ability to down tools and physically ‘leave’ work at the end of the day. For employers, it’s knowing that they are supporting healthy habits, and providing their staff with a vital tool for balancing work with life.
- A well-equipped environment
The benefits of flexible workspace extend beyond atmosphere to the physical environment on offer to employees.
IWG locations come with high-quality desks and chairs that are a far cry from the uncomfortable kitchen stools many home workers may find themselves sitting on.
In addition, IWG locations have hardware such as printers and photocopiers that many home offices lack, as well as meeting rooms and coworking spaces that allow for networking and collaboration.
- Fewer distractions, improved productivity
One clear advantage of a local flexible workspace over the ‘home office’ is a reduction in domestic distractions.
From pets vying for attention to your family’s undefeatable laundry pile, working where you live comes with interruptions and stresses that simply disappear when you leave your house behind.
Gaurav Sharma signed an agreement in May 2021 to develop eight new Regus centres in the state of Rajasthan, India. He argues that, while it makes sense for firms to downsize their HQs in the wake of the pandemic, it will also be important for them to offer people peaceful, professional workspaces that are superior to what they may have at home.
- High-quality, secure IT infrastructure
Few home workers made it through the pandemic without experiencing Wi-Fi woes, and the reliability, as well as the security, of IT infrastructure is a potential challenge for company CIOs as hybrid working takes root.
All of IWG’s flexible workspaces have business-grade Wi-Fi as standard, as well as stringent security systems that are continuously checked for resilience. “Even though our offices have different companies using the same network, we make sure that one client can’t connect to another via that network,” says IWG’s Information Security Manager Ran Haer.
“We use penetration testers, also known as professional hackers: a specialist team who go into centres and test the systems. We are continually checking everything behind the scenes.”
- Equality of opportunity
Finally, it’s important to note that, as a new world of work takes shape, companies must ensure their hybrid working policies are not detrimental to employees.
In other words, firms need to recognise that while some staff will have well-equipped, dedicated home office space, others will not.
Expecting staff to work from locations that are poorly set up or unsuitable is potentially problematic for companies that have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that people are treated fairly, and with health and safety in mind.
Providing universal access to flexible workspace levels the playing field for employees: it offers everyone the same access to secure, comfortable, distraction-free spaces.
The time is now
The hybrid approach is here to stay, argues IWG CEO Mark Dixon – not least because it is already delivering “spectacular benefits for employees and employers alike”.
“Multiple studies have shown that businesses of all sizes are planning for a hybrid future,” Dixon says. “In fact, our own research of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 has shown that three times the number of listed businesses are looking to use a hybrid model, compared to those looking to carry on in the same way as pre-pandemic.”
All in all, it’s evident that companies can ease the transition to a hybrid model – and overcome some of the challenges they might associate with it – by considering a flexible workspace.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that IWG is seeking to grow its franchise business even further in 2022 and beyond. “We are aiming to expand our network, mostly by franchise, to provide a flexible workspace in every village, town and city,” Dixon explains. “The future of work is already with us, and it’s only going to improve.”
Are you ready to meet the demand for flexible office space? Find out more about IWG’s franchising partnerships today.