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:
- The Future Of Work Shows Promise NEW
- Software Company Makes Commitment To Hybrid Model NEW
- Dropbox Turns To Virtual-first Approach NEW
- Breather To Close All Of Its Locations
- Remote Working Could Skyrocket In The Future
- Why Employee Monitoring Is Hurting Productivity
The Future Of Work Shows Promise
While the current atmosphere of the workforce feels grim due to high unemployment rates and business closures, there have been glimmers of hope in the evolution of the workplace.
Now, companies have had the ultimate experience with new technologies and work arrangements that can aid in improving productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction.
Video conferencing has been one of the most significant trends to emerge over the last nine months. Tools like Zoom and Google Meet have seen record high usage as businesses work to keep their employees engaged while they work from home.
Tech companies are now working to build off this technology to create a better user experience. For instance, Oculus Rift and Facebook’s Infinite Office use virtual reality to create a more immersive workplace experience.
“Many companies are saying they will continue to work from home, but employees need these spaces where they can meet and communicate,” said Anna Quieroz, professor at Stanford University. “VR can allow for that proximity and collaborative mindset to take place.”
Along with improvements to technology, companies have also realized the benefits of a mentally and physically healthy workforce. Research has proven that employees who are healthy perform better at their tasks, so organizations are making an effort to prioritize wellness initiatives.
2021 is bound to be a year of applying lessons, promoting wellbeing and focusing on creating the best employee experience in order to boost productivity and workplace operations.
Software Company Makes Commitment To Hybrid Model
Software firm VMware has revealed it will transition to a hybrid work arrangement for its 33,000 employees in order to boost its environmental and diversity goals.
As part of its Future of Work initiative, the company said it will provide its staff with the choice to work from home, in the office or both.
Many other major companies have opted for this arrangement as well in order to reap the benefits of working from home, such as flexibility and a healthy work-life balance, and in the office which is ideal for collaboration.
“We are empowering our team to choose to work permanently remote, “flexible” or near a VMware office, or from a VMware office full-time,” said Rich Lang, senior vice president of human resources at VMware. “Employees can work from any location that accelerates their productivity and advances their personal and professional goals.
Dropbox Turns To Virtual-first Approach
Leaders have shifted their focus from staying afloat through the pandemic, to identifying what strategies can help them sustain business in the long-term.
For cloud storage firm Dropbox, the company is turning to a virtual-first approach to turn its offices into collaborative studios, coined Dropbox Studios. It will also offer its employees stipends to become coworking members.
Using this approach, Dropbox hopes to expand its talent pool and thus create a more diverse workforce.
“We know that the things that were really important to people were to be able to connect with individuals and eventually get together when they need to collaborate and work as a team, in a collaborative space,” said Sylvie Veilleux, CIO at Dropbox. “But for the most part, individual work will continue to work from home.”
Companies have steadily been walking away from their physical offices, with Pinterest recently paying $90 million to break its lease on an office in San Francisco.
This trend is sweeping through the entire commercial real estate market, where occupancy has dropped by 28.9 million square feet in the third quarter of 2020.
Breather To Close All Of Its Locations
Breather has laid off the majority of its employees and is planning to close its over 400 locations across the world.
As the company starts the insolvency process in the U.S. and Great Britain, the Montreal-based flexible office provider plans to transition to an online-only platform that would allow users to rent other flexible offices.
The company is also seeking to walk away from its 79 leases in Canada.
The firm plans to assign its locations to a third party who will close them down and repay Breather’s creditors.
“The decision I’ve made is that Breather, in its current form as an operator, doesn’t make sense, and, to be frank, I’m not sure it ever made sense,” said Bryan Murphy, CEO of Breather. “I want to be like Airbnb.”
When the pandemic struck earlier this year, Breather furloughed the majority of its 120 employees, but had plans to bring them back once the dust settled.
However, last week, most of its staff were let go of permanently and given two to six weeks of severance.
Flexible office operators have faced innumerable challenges over the last nine months as members work from home, leaving their spaces vacant. Many firms have also faced lawsuits over unpaid rent, including Breather who was sued by IGS Realty Co. over $91,000 in missing rent.
Remote Working Could Skyrocket In The Future
Upwork’s new Future Workforce Pulse Report is predicting that the number of remote workers could double by 2025, growing by 16.8 million people.
The report found that hiring managers expect people to slowly return to the office, with 26.7% of the workforce being fully remote in one year. Prior to the pandemic, only 12.3% of the workforce worked remotely.
“Increased productivity and flexibility continue to be key benefits of remote work: Hiring managers cite reduction of non-essential meetings, increased schedule flexibility, and no commute as aspects of remote work that have worked better than expected,” the report from Upwork said.
While this arrangement is at the front of everyone’s minds, CBRE CEO Bob Sulentic predicts that 80% of occupancy will come back to offices in the coming years.
However, it won’t be the traditional offices we once knew. Instead, Sulentic anticipates the adoption of various alternative workspaces, such as flexible offices, managed workspaces and more as companies explore a hybrid work arrangement.
Major technology companies, such as Google, have already revealed their commitment to a hybrid approach. Just last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent out an email to employees that announced the company’s transition to a flexible workweek where employees come into the offices for three days and work from home the other two.
Why Employee Monitoring Is Hurting Productivity
Many companies and business leaders, particularly those who were adamantly against remote working until it was a necessity, have used monitoring tools to make sure their employees are still being productive.
Using these resources may be a quick way to ensure staffers are staying on task, but it also creates a workplace culture of distrust and conflict.
Tracking software is not new by any means, but it has grown in popularity over the last several months. For instance, Microsoft launched its Productivity Score which monitors time spent in virtual meetings and the amount of emails sent.
Additionally, Amazon launched its Panorama tool that utilizes existing security cameras to track the movement of employees.
While in some cases this technology can be used to improve the productivity and efficiency of a workplace, the trouble starts when monitoring moves towards tracking individual metrics instead of the big picture.
Using this software to monitor how individual projects and tasks are being done only adds pressure to the situation, which can lead to job dissatisfaction. Essentially, these tools are automated micromanaging techniques.
Additionally, monitoring does not take into account the varying ways people work, and diversity is essential to a well-oiled workforce. Doing so hinders creativity, productivity and collaboration.
Trust is an essential component to a healthy workplace culture. When there is mutual trust between all levels of employees, workers are happier, healthier and more motivated to do their best work.