The hybrid approach is here to stay – and with good reason. Here’s what your clients need to know about the shift to this new way of working, and how it could benefit their businesses.
Executives who’ve spent the past 18 months anticipating a ‘return to normal’ may be feeling uneasy as offices around the world begin reopening their doors. Why? Because it’s increasingly clear that, for many workers, going back to their pre-pandemic routine holds little appeal.
Long periods of lockdown have highlighted the benefits of remote working for staff – chiefly a dramatic drop in commuting. This has reduced stress, cut travel costs and freed up precious time that can be spent with friends and family or on vital self-care. Such improvements in work-life balance are meaningful enough that, according to a recent IWG survey, 72% of people would rather forgo a 10% pay rise than give them up.
Research from McKinsey and the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that hybrid working is now the clear preference for a majority of office workers. This model empowers employees to split their time between the corporate HQ, their own home and a local flexible workspace.
For clients – especially those who have previously been reluctant to allow remote working – navigating this ‘new normal’ may be challenging. However, knowledgeable brokers can play a vital, reassuring role in the search for real estate that works right now.
Here, we explore five reasons why flexible workspace could make a positive difference to your clients, with benefits for people, profits and the planet.
It supports staff retention
As ‘The Great Resignation’ hits headlines, smart firms will support their people in working flexibly from locations that are convenient. The term, coined by Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University, describes unprecedented levels of activity in the labour market: one of the main repercussions of Covid-19.
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index survey of more than 31,000 workers around the world, 41% – almost half the global workforce – are considering quitting their jobs in 2021. While some workers have been encouraged to rethink their life choices by the crisis, others are simply reassessing how their employers have handled the pandemic. As restrictions in many areas ease, a key question is whether staff are being put under pressure to return to the office.
Microsoft’s research shows that 73% of workers want flexible, remote work options to remain in place, post-pandemic, while IWG found that 83% of workers would now be more likely to apply for a position if it offered a flexible way of working. Put simply, people want the freedom to work from wherever suits them best – and they’re prepared to vote with their feet if autonomy isn’t on offer.
Giving employees the choice to base themselves at a local flexible workspace part of the time, and at home or the corporate HQ the rest of the time, locks in hybrid working benefits such as a reduced commute, improved work-life balance and enhanced trust within teams. However, it also provides assurance for employers that staff can remove themselves from domestic distractions, and ensures access to professional facilities such as secure, business-grade WiFi.
It allows for inclusive, best-fit recruitment
Adoption of a hybrid working model – particularly when this comes with access to a broad network of flexible workspaces, such as IWG’s – enables firms to broaden the talent pool their HR department fishes in. No longer bound to look for candidates who live within a commutable distance of the corporate HQ, businesses can search for those who are truly best suited to a role.
The flexibility typically associated with hybrid working helps to support equality of opportunity, too. People with disabilities or caring responsibilities, for example, tend to benefit from minimal commuting and the ability to plan their own schedules.
What’s more, would-be employees without high-quality home office set-ups won’t find themselves disadvantaged during a hybrid hiring process that promises access to a local flexspace.
The option of using what IWG CEO and Founder Mark Dixon calls “offices ‘around the corner’” further improves inclusivity, enabling firms to take on employees from diverse backgrounds and disparate locations.
It improves productivity
While it may seem counterintuitive to business leaders who’ve spent years extolling the virtues of ‘the office’, research from CIPD shows that remote working either had no significant effect or helped to improve productivity during Covid-19.
More significant in the medium term is Accenture’s finding that 69% of companies with negative or no growth characteristics are focused on where their people work, while 63% of those with high-growth characteristics have enabled ‘productivity anywhere’ models.
The study underlines the point that people who feel supported, valued and trusted are likely to be more effective in their job roles – as well as inclined to work harder.
It cuts costs
Hybrid working can also offer significant savings on real estate for clients, providing a boost for the bottom line during what may be a bumpy recovery period.
Global organisations such as JP Morgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group and BP have already signalled their intent to shrink office footprints. This is hardly surprising, given research into the benefits of the hybrid model shows that remote workers can save an organisation as much as $11,000 a year.
Firms including NTT and Standard Chartered bank have signed deals with IWG to provide employees with access to its global network of flexible workspaces. Such programmes create a ‘level playing field’ for staff, ensuring that all are able to work from well set up, fully equipped locations.
Enterprise partnerships also offer businesses the agility that many are searching for, post-pandemic. Executives retain the power to scale space up or down at short notice without the need for commitment to a long-term lease.
It reduces environmental impact
Finally, it’s worth considering the benefits of flexspace for the planet, too. As the pandemic recedes, Dixon predicts companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) agendas will come into sharp focus – and adoption of hybrid working is a smart way to bolster sustainability goals.
The model entails a more efficient use of office buildings, which are significant consumers of energy and require huge amounts of power to construct. What’s more, says Dixon, “Companies of all sizes see addressing the need for their people to commute to work as the single greatest contribution they can make to reducing their carbon footprint.”
By bringing work into the heart of communities and allowing employees to operate from flexible workspaces, he argues, “Firms can immediately and significantly reduce the weight of traffic on roads and in cities across the world.”
Ultimately, Dixon insists, “People want to work close to where they live. It’s going to stick.” For companies – and the brokers who work with them – the key is understanding the opportunities presented by this new world of work.
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