The flexible office operator indicated that its annual results in August is forcing it to reevaluate its portfolio in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
Now, the company’s Australian portfolio will likely see closures in areas such as Melbourne and Sydney. This is part of the firm’s plan to accommodate businesses of all sizes and meet growing demand from professionals wanting to work closer to home.
Just recently, IWG signed its first franchise deal with the Adams Group to open 10 Regus locations in Queensland.
Coworking Could Be A Solution For Remote Workers
Working from home once seemed like a temporary solution to a temporary problem, but as we prepare to experience a second wave of COVID-19 infections, it has become a necessity for workers.
However, many employees have expressed the want to come back into the office. In fact, a survey from business equipment company Raja found that 65% of 2,000 respondents missed the social interaction of the workplace.
While it may be unreasonable to open up headquarters at full capacity right now, coworking spaces could provide a proper solution and provide a more flexible option for employees.
“What a lot of people miss most of all is the ‘pushing back your chair’ moment – raising your head up from your laptop and asking your colleagues a question,” said John Burgess, associate director for real estate at Grant Thorton and member of London-based coworking firm Hatcham House. “I’m talking to young colleagues who have just joined us in the September graduate intake that haven’t met anyone in the organisation. Perhaps they’ve moved to London because of this job opportunity, and they’re really feeling lonely.”
Working from home has taken a mental toll on many people, and coworking spaces provide a sense of community that cannot be replicated online. This is particularly ideal for those who want to avoid entering the main office in a busy city.
However, going into these shared offices should be done with caution. Coworking operators will need to emphasize the importance of sanitation, distancing and mask wearing, rather than the normal sharing of amenities and dense nature of these spaces.
Companies Are Adopting More Flexible Workplace Strategies
During Corenet Global’s Virtual Summit this week, workplace analysts discussed how companies are adapting to the ongoing pandemic and what this could mean for the future of the office.
One of the most notable emerging trends from major companies has been the adoption of a permanent hybrid work model, which allows employees to work from home and in the office for part of the week.
“Physical, mental and emotional well-being is our top priority,” said Michael Ford, vice president & partner of worldwide real estate, construction, facilities and security at Microsoft.
Now, around 10% to 12% of Microsoft’s employees are working remotely. However, company-wide surveys found that the majority of employees still want to be in the office for at least three days of the work week.
The company has also been putting an emphasis on the employee experience by collecting data from these surveys to plan their next move. Doing so allows Microsoft employees to have a say in how and when they work.
“Our central strategy is about data and agility,” said Ford. “We want to take real time data and let science drive adjustments to our real estate strategy.”
In the meantime, companies who are bringing employees back into the workplace should continue implementing physical distancing, face masks and sanitation to decrease the potential spread of the virus.
Now that the way we collaborate, communicate and get work done has been altered, what can we expect from the future of the workplace?
Prior to the pandemic, many business leaders shared the misconception that remote working was a hindrance on productivity. However, a McKinsey report revealed that 41% of employees feel more productive than ever before.
People who have recently transitioned to remote working arrangements have also said they enjoy not having to commute daily and have more time to focus on their personal lives.
Still, the office is not going anywhere. Instead, it will play a new role in which it is used for in-person collaboration or team-building events.
What has become clear is that employees mostly enjoy the flexibility to choose when and where they work. While some enjoy working from home, others may want a flexible office to come to a few times a week.
Additionally, now is the time for employees to focus on upskilling. By 2030, McKinsey predicts that 50% of jobs could potentially be automated. Still, 85% of jobs that will be available by that time haven’t even been invented yet.
Although offices have implemented new safety and healthy measures to keep workers safe, remote working remains the most reasonable choice for some. However, the fatigue of being home all the time could be weighing on people.
So what can organizations do to make sure that offices can still play a role in workplace operations?
For starters, avoiding hotdesking for the time being will be wise. Shared workstations in tight spaces are not the ideal choice now or even in the future. Assigning desks that are properly spaced out will be essential.
Additionally, office layouts will need to be reevaluated. While open office plans have grown in popularity in the last several years, companies should consider adding private rooms or zones to allow people to work in a safer environment.
One of the more obvious steps that organizations must make moving forward is increasing sanitation and ventilation. This means potentially installing new air filtration systems and even sanitation stations around the office. Encouraging employees to clean up after themselves will also help mitigate the risk of spreading any sort of virus.
For now, companies should advise employees to work from home when they can. If they must come into the office, only allow them to do so on a rotated schedule to keep occupancy levels low.
How The Bay Area’s Office Market Varies
Although Silicon Valley and San Francisco are often grouped into the Bay Area bubble, the differences between these two regions has been highlighted in a new CBRE report.
According to the Tech-30 report, which looks at the impact that the tech industry has on office space demand, found that San Francisco was at risk for growing sublease availability.
“The city of San Francisco contains the largest concentration of young startup and public companies that have been significantly affected by the pandemic-related shutdowns,” said Colin Yasukochi, executive director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “San Francisco also faces social distancing headwinds in the near-term in its density and reliance on public transit and vertical office towers.”
About an hour south of the city, Silicon Valley saw a 11.6% growth in office rent over a two-year period that ended June 30.
The difference between the two regions is Silicon Valley’s submarkets are heavily influenced by major tech companies such as Alphabet, Apple and Facebook, which have stayed afloat throughout the pandemic.
Despite San Francisco’s struggling office market, the report expects that the city’s excess of top tech talent will help fuel incoming startups.
“The Covid-19-induced recession has released the pressure on both fronts, and we expect companies to take advantage of the opportunities created by increased office vacancy,” said Todd Husak, managing director leading CBRE’s Tech & Media Practice.
Aayat is an editor for the Daily Digest based in Lexington, Kentucky. She has worked with local coworking spaces since August of 2017 and enjoys taking her firsthand knowledge to write about the fascinating, constantly evolving world of flexible workspaces.