Daily Digest News – October 7, 2020

Hand selected flexible workspace news from the most reliable sources to keep you ahead of the pack. We find all the latest news, so you don’t have to. Morning and afternoon updates. Stay in the know.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Returning To A Safe, Secure Workplace

While many professionals have spent the past few months adjusting to working from home, some are now preparing for their next big shift: returning to the office.

Peter Cosgrove, Future of Work expert, anticipates that 30 to 40% of people will return to the workplace in the near future. He added that discussions about the impact of the workplace on mental health will come to the forefront.

Managers who do not instill trust into their employees suffer the most. Leaders who hone in on presenteeism tend to build an environment that Cosgrove refers to as “low trust culture.”

This can have a direct negative impact on the stress levels of employees, particularly as they prepare to reenter the physical office.

Now, workers are juggling the pressure of standing out to managers, while also worrying about the cleanliness of the workplace and following distancing measures.

In order to create a secure work environment, businesses should consider daily temperature checks and even virus screenings to prevent outbreaks.

There will be varying other factors that could hinder creating a healthy work atmosphere. For instance, throughout the pandemic, some workers may have lost loved ones or simply the connection with their friends and colleagues. Leading with a heavy dose of empathy will be essential moving forward.

“Relationships with managers are more important than ever. It’s important to understand what’s expected of you as your performance objectives might be different from before,” said Cosgrove. “Also, if you or a family member has an underlying health condition and you feel the Covid-19 guidelines aren’t been adhered to, you need to be able to talk to your manager about it.”

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Nurturing Workplace Culture While Working Remotely

A new survey by employee recognition firm O.C. Tanner has revealed that seven in 10 workers want to continue working from home some of the time after the pandemic is over.

The survey features responses from 1,426 workers across Canada, the US and the UK. The findings revealed that bringing workers back into the office all at once won’t be plausible, which is why organizations will be looking into adopting a hybrid work arrangement.

Time has revealed cracks in working from home positions, particularly when it comes to maintaining work culture and healthy communication.

“As organizations realized the importance of social interactions, especially within the areas of collaboration and innovation, architecture and interior design began to focus on making physical workspaces inspire and cause these types of interactions to occur,” said Tom De Iulis, senior vice president of product and strategy at corporate discount program provider Venngo.

Still, some employees will undoubtedly continue working from home and coming into the workplace for only part of the work week. Because of this, De Iulis adds that companies need to do their best to replicate the positive factors of a physical office when working virtually.

That is where the role of HR comes into play. HR leaders will have more responsibilities when it comes to nurturing workplace culture.

(Credit: Bigstock)

New York’s Office Activity Remains Uncertain

According to Newmark Knight Frank’s latest quarterly research, office market activity in New York City remains muddled.

There was a negative absorption of 10,973,238 square feet after availability in the city grew, marking the highest volume of negative quarter absorption on record.

On the other hand, Manhattan’s availability rate grew from 11.9% to 14.1% during the second quarter, with 18 out of 19 submarkets seeing an increase.

Of all the submarkets, Penn Station performed particularly well, namely due to Facebook leasing the 730,000 square foot Farley Post Office on 390 Ninth Avenue.

However, asking rents dipped for the second straight quarter due to sublease spaces pushing average rents down and forcing landlords to reevaluate their prices.

Manhattan’s three major submarkets saw a drop in rent, with Midtown South seeing the biggest dip of $3.11 per square feet.

At the same time, availability in Midtown South saw a 2.7% increase from the previous quarter due to a 114,230 square feet addition on 149 Madison Avenue, which was previously leased by WeWork.

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“Non-office using industries have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s effects,” the report read. “For example, the hospitality industry’s added 75,200 jobs since May, but it’s down 162,000 jobs since the onset of COVID-19.”

(Credit: Bigstock)

Companies Looking To Cut Down On Office Space

A new survey from Cisco Systems Inc. has found that over half of companies have plans to cut down on office space to accommodate employees working from home after the pandemic is over.

Additionally, nearly all respondents of the survey stated they were uncomfortable with returning to work for fear they could contract the virus.

Over 90% of respondents revealed they would not return to the office full-time, with 12% planning to work from home all of the time, 24% working remotely more than 15 days each month and 22% working remotely eight to 15 days each month.

Cisco’s Webex video conferencing services have seen a huge boost in usage as millions of people continue to work from home. 

To accommodate workers who do return to the office, Webex will be adding environmental sensors that plug into its video-conferencing gear to make it easier for companies to identify whether a space is being under or over-used.

(Credit: Bigstock)

TKP Prepares For New Opportunities

Japanese flexible office operator TKP Corporation is preparing to take advantage of the opportunity that high vacancy rates could provide.

While the company’s revenue has dropped over the past several months, the company’s current shares have jumped 165% from March as investors anticipate a rebound.

“The pandemic has brought the need for such spaces all at once,” said Takateru Kawano, founder and CEO of TKP. “Many companies will begin to shrink their office space, and in turn will look to decentralize and disperse employees to satellite offices.”

Many major companies in Japan, such as Toshiba and Fujitsu, are already looking into cutting down on their office space. With Tokyo’s office vacancy at its highest point since January 2018, analysts believe that it could continue climbing over the next five years.

Despite these losses, TKP is confident that reconfiguring its spaces to accommodate the new normal will help make up for the stall in revenue over the last several months.

By repurposing its conference rooms into smaller offices, shared office operators can better meet the needs of the hybrid work arrangement that several companies, particularly corporates, have started adopting.

This growth is expected to occur over the next two to three years, where Kawano expects half of current corporate five-year office leases to expire.

“That’s when the change really takes place,” said Kawano. “They will shrink offices, cut office floor and rent satellite offices. That’s when we can attract clients with our added value.”

(Credit: TKP Corporation)

Handling Mental Health While Working Remotely

After months of millions of people working from home for the first time, it has become clear that there are both pros and cons to this work arrangement.

The benefits have always been highlighted, such as no commutes, dressing casually and being able to complete home-related tasks in between meetings.

However, a new study of 12,000 people across 11 countries conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence revealed the downsides of remote working.

The research found that 78% of respondents saw a negative impact to their mental health this year. Additionally, 41% said they are feeling challenged due to blurred lines between home and work lives.

Even more staggering, 85% said mental health issues are impacting their home life due to sleep deprivation, poor physical health, decreased happiness, problems with family relationships and being isolated from friends.

So how can struggling remote workers find a healthier balance between their personal lives and their work responsibilities? 

For starters, being proactive and finding new ways to add value in your position can reinvigorate your passions. For instance, those who typically deal with running events or training programs can find a new home in production. Having a sense of value can boost mental health significantly.

Additionally, setting boundaries can help with creating distinctions between home and personal life, even if you are working from your dining room table. Creating a schedule and putting away your work-related devices can make it easier for workers to unwind at the end of the day.

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