Daily Digest News – January 26, 2021

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:

WeWork Will Close More D.C. Locations

After closing three Washington D.C. area locations back in October, WeWork will close an additional four spaces next month.

The workspaces that the company will move out of on February 26 are located in Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Chinatown and the H Street corridor. WeWork identified other nearby locations for members to relocate to.

The coworking firm revealed that it would be closing these spaces to “streamline our portfolio towards profitable growth” according to a spokesperson. 

The Dupont Circle location opened in 2014, while the Crystal City space opened in 2016 and is located in the same building as one of the company’s WeLive spaces.

Since the firm’s infamous failed attempt to go public in September 2019, WeWork has been reconfiguring its real estate portfolio in order to cut down on losses and eventually achieve profitability.

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How To Transition To Flexible Work Strategies

As vaccines begin to be distributed worldwide, there is hope that employees will return to the office. But the reality is many workers enjoy the ability to work from home, which is why leaders will need to strategize work policies that marry both arrangements.

Not only are new operational models needed to accommodate the needs of employees, but businesses need risk mitigation plans in case of another potential crisis, whether it be a pandemic or a natural disaster.

A survey from CBRE has found that 86% of respondents view flexible offices as a crucial component for the future of their real estate strategies.

Flexible offices provide a safe workspace alternative for companies who are either not ready to commit to long-term leases, or have decided to adopt a hybrid work arrangement on a permanent basis.

These workspaces are fully-equipped, typically technology-enabled and meet the varying work styles of employees. However, it is important to note that flexible arrangements are still not one-size-fits-all, so listening to what employees need out of their work environment will be essential.

One thing to keep in mind when transitioning to a more flexible work arrangement is maintaining workplace culture. 

When employees are working from various locations, it can be hard to keep them engaged and connected. It will be up to employers to find unique ways of bringing teams together, while still ensuring that their workplace needs are met.

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Decreasing The Risk Of Workplace Burnout

While there is a glimmer of hope in the new year, it is likely we will still be working within the confines of our homes for several more months.

Because of this, leaders need to make it a priority to support their employees who may be experiencing burnout.

Burnout impacts workers’ productivity, anxiety and stress levels, as well as their overall mental health. This has greatly impacted women in particular, who have disproportionately been pushed out of the workforce over the last several months.

People of color, primarily Black and Latinx workers, have been found to be more concerned about their employment compared to their white counterparts. It makes sense too — people of color are historically at higher risk of losing their jobs due to working in industries with higher layoffs, as well racial bias.

So how can business leaders instill trust into employees who are anxious and on the brink of burnout? For starters, creating an inclusive and nurturing remote work environment will be essential.

Research has indicated that minorities are less likely to share personal information about themselves at work. Additionally, Black women are more likely to experience invisibility in the workplace.

That is why it is up to leaders to reach out and let employees know that their experiences matter, and that their issues are being heard and addressed.

Additionally, relying on strictly remote arrangements can actually hinder productivity. Leaders should offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling or even a safe office alternative outside of their homes.

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Remote Working Is Having A Physical and Mental Impact

Research from office and technology manufacturer Fellowes Brands has found that remote working is having a detrimental impact on mental and physical health.

The analysis found that 35% of UK workers who have worked from home for at least four months have felt stressed or anxious, while 38% stated feeling tired or lacking energy.

The report has also found that the lack of adequate home offices is putting employees’ health at risk. In fact, 49% stated that they are experiencing more physical strain working from home, including strained eyes, stiff necks, aching backs and headaches.

Additionally, 65% said they have spent their own money on home working equipment, indicating that employers are not doing enough to support home office environments.

Unfortunately, the research also reveals that 1 in 5 respondents believe their employer does not care about their wellbeing and are more focused on the bottom line.

Almost half of remote workers are working longer hours, with 27% stating they are struggling with separating home and work life.

Even more, 29% stated they were too busy to take breaks throughout the day and 35% felt that they needed to be available at all times.

However, 89% found that they would be happy to work from home in the future, but 63% said they would be more motivated and encouraged if their home office environment were better equipped.

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San Francisco’s Office Market Could Continue To Plummet

A new report from research and advisory firm Green Street has found that San Francisco could have the worst performing office market in the U.S. in 2021.

The analysis has indicated that rent and occupancy rates will fall 22% this year as technology companies continue adopting remote working policies. New York will follow closely behind, with a 17% drop for similar reasons.

Additionally, Green Street predicts that office space demand in the U.S. will fall by around 15% through 2025.

“San Francisco and New York will likely see a permanent resetting of rents as people and businesses look more towards the middle of the country for expansion,” said Danny Ismail, an analyst at Green Street. “It’s unlikely that rents and occupancy will return to a level pre-Covid over the next few years.”

Companies have been fleeing to secondary markets like Nashville and Austin in lieu of these expensive technology hubs.

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The Benefits Of A “Choice First” Workplace

Many companies have asked their employees whether they would rather come back to the office full-time or continue working from home.

The key to strategizing new workplace arrangements is simply offering choice. Providing employees the ability to choose what works best for them creates a stable foundation for a healthy hybrid work model.

The past year has proven that employees can work together no matter where they are located. While remote working has been ideal for many professionals, others have struggled with the adjustment and have expressed the desire to return to the office.

At cybersecurity company Tessian, employees are provided multiple work options that best suits their needs. 

These include: an office-based worker who comes into the workplace at least three times a week, a flexible employee who comes into the office once or twice a week and a remote employee who visits the office a few times a year.

Offering this type of flexibility and choice is not only beneficial to the company’s productivity, but also boosts employees’ job satisfaction.

A “choice-first” workplace helps companies attract and retain top talent, widens access to diverse talent pools and ensures that employees can better care for their wellbeing.

Before a company makes the full transition to a hybrid work model, leaders must carefully address any potential challenges that can come with this arrangement.

For instance, maintaining workplace culture with a distributed workforce is difficult. Leaders should find strategies to ensure that all employees, no matter where they are working from, are treated equally.

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