Planning For The Post-COVID Era: Innovation In The Flexible Workspace Sector Is Key

Dr Adam Case, Technical Director at technologywithin, discusses why innovation is key to help businesses through the health crisis.
  • For businesses in the flexible workspace arena, now is the time to innovate and plan for your clients’ longer-term needs.
  • Thinking innovatively and doing the right thing for customers at no profit now will protect your business in the long term.
  • It’s not a time to be afraid to make changes, and adapting what we offer to customers in the future will be critical to survival.

This article has been written by Dr Adam Case, Technical Director at technologywithin.

The deep and far-reaching effects of COVID-19 make it easy to believe that the best thing for businesses in the flexible workspace right now is to stop everything – stop marketing, developing, planning ahead and investing in our companies. Conferences, client events and sales meetings have been cancelled – all while we grapple with unprecedented pressures. The temptation is to shut the door against the world, try to work out the GCSE maths syllabus and cut the budget to the bone.

We would be wrong to do so.

For many companies and sectors, it’s either necessary or smart to close up shop and wait this out. But for businesses in the flexible workspace arena, be that owners, operators, advisors or service providers, it’s a time to innovate, supporting your client base with new solutions in the immediate term, while reflecting on your company’s future offering in the longer term.

Support your client base for short-term uncertainty

In the short term, companies across the flexible workspace ecosystem should be focusing on helping customers stay in business. If you want to keep them in the long term, adapting your offering to provide innovative solutions to their immediate problems is the best way forward. Some tech companies are rushing in to try to profit from the COVID-19 situation, instead of acting as a supportive partner. I have witnessed this first-hand, with companies not dissimilar from our own offering remote working software while charging thousands of pounds over the odds for extra licenses. This may seem an immediate return, but is surely a short-sighted approach and one likely to repel clients over time.

At technologywithin, for example, responding to what our customers need in this climate means helping clients to operate as close as possible to ‘normal’ while uncertainty persists, ensuring the basics, such as remote access to their phones, are in place. To this end, our development team turned around a smartphone app solution in under a week, now available to clients for free, until further notice.  

Understanding what your clients will need through this period is critical. Help them provide solutions to their customers and in turn retain business, ensuring that their customers continue to value them, even though they might be working remotely. Thinking innovatively and doing the right thing for customers at no profit now will protect your business in the long term.

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Honest reflection to fuel long-term success

After a period of readjustment over the next couple of months, businesses in the flexible workspace sector will have to reflect honestly on their future strengths and weaknesses and whether the current 12-month plan will hold up when the market settles. It’s not a time to be afraid to make changes, and adapting what we offer to customers in the future will be critical to survival.

The development roadmap must come under the spotlight, and operators, owners, and service providers should all be engaging with customers and having meaningful conversations about the services that will be most valuable to them in the coming months and years. After all, our working preferences and needs will no doubt have evolved after a long period of working remotely.

But, in the meantime, we should be proactively rebalancing resources from the front line into innovating and developing the services that we feel confident our clients will need longer term. For us at technologywithin, this means dramatically enhancing our enabling systems like our CRM. These projects will set us up for a strong start when customers begin to contemplate a return to the new normal, as they will need providers that support them in a post-COVID era.

There’s no doubt that we are facing a period of unparalleled change – true of all sectors – but certainly significant for the flexible working ecosystem. With that change will come pressure, but now is not the time to buckle. When the market returns to normal and customers return to the office – and they will do – they will demand the flexible working model of the future. Let’s be ready to meet that challenge.

Dr Adam Case is Technical Director at technologywithin, which provides WiFi, Internet and software solutions to the flexible workspace industry.

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