Daily Digest News – February 11, 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:

IWG Provides The Wing With Much-needed Fundraising

Female-oriented coworking operator The Wing, which was on the cusp of filing for bankruptcy, has been given a second chase.

IWG has provided The Wing with an undisclosed new round of fundraising so it can expand across the country and worldwide.

“We are thrilled to share that The Wing has partnered with IWG PLC, the world’s largest flexible workspace provider, paving the way for The Wing to pursue its substantial growth plans both in the U.S. and internationally,” said a spokesperson for The Wing. “We welcome IWG to our team to bring two organizations together with a shared commitment in creating communities and spaces designed for women.”

In the heyday of coworking, The Wing was raising millions of dollars in fundraising from companies like Sequoia Capital and WeWork.

After WeWork divested its stake it had in The Wing, the social club’s valuation fell from $365 million to $200 million.

Then, The Wing laid off the majority of its hourly workers and half of its corporate staff at the beginning of the pandemic. In July, it let go of an additional 58 employees.

It also came under scrutiny after staff members made complaints about their working conditions and mistreatment of people of color.

In October, it was reported that the company’s financials are greatly struggling and that it was close to filing for bankruptcy.

Credit: The Wing

Confidence Is Growing Among Chicago Office Tenants 

While Chicago’s offices are still mostly quiet, landlords are noting an uptick in inquiries as tenants have started to ask what protocols will be taken to make offices safe.

North Wells Capital and its partner Urban Innovations are preparing strategies to help tenants make come back to the office safely according to Tony Lindsay, principal at NWC.

The partners signed a lease with Workbox Coworking Company for over 15,000 square feet on West Erie Street. 

According to Lindsay, this deal was viewed as more than just an office deal. They hope to create an easier, less stressful transition back into the workplace.

At Workbox, tenants can occupy a desk or two, while businesses who decide to permanently cut down on their real estate footprint can use Workbox as an alternative workspace solution.

Colliers International has reported that the vacancy rate in River North grew from 7.8% in the last quarter of 2019 to 13.4% during the last quarter in 2020.

As vaccines begin to be distributed worldwide, tenants’ confidence is slowly growing. However, they are still unsure of how much space they will need in the long-term, and how remote working will continue to play a role in their operations.

“Our business depends on people feeling good about long-term decisions, but right now, tenants are not sure whether they can sign leases, or what kind of leases they can sign,” said Andy Davidson, Managing Director at MBRE. “So there is a big shift toward flex office space.”

Credit: Canva

Recent Office Transformations Are Here To Stay

Offices have been among some of the hardest hit buildings over the past year. In order to accommodate workers throughout the pandemic, they have been forced to make major changes.

Architecture firm Gensler’s recently released design trends forecast indicates that many of the transformations that have occurred in recent months will continue to play a role long into the future.

One of the key trends that has emerged is the hybrid work concept, which allows employees to work both from home and in the office.

“This is an opportunity to reimagine how much space is required, how many people are going to be there, why are they there, and how can we design a place that allows them to come together in a safe way but really do their best work,” said Janet Pogue McLaurin, global workplace research leader at Gensler.

From an architectural perspective, workplaces that implement agility and flexibility will come out on top. According to McLaurin, using new design elements like rolling dividers and movable walls can make it easy for offices to accommodate both private and collaborative work environments.

Ensuring that there are spaces within the office that engages all work styles will be crucial moving forward.

Additionally, Gensler’s surveys have found that some of the top desires workers have for their workplace are health and well-being related. This includes fitness facilities, outdoor spaces and access to health and childcare services.

Credit: Bigstock

Science Advancement Could Use Sweat To Identify Burnout

New research has found ways to measure levels of stress in a person’s sweat, which may help indicate signs of burnout.

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Sweat can now be used to measure a person’s cortisol levels. Job stressors can cause the body to produce too much cortisol, which can lead to burnout.

Using a wearable electronic chip, professionals can better identify signs of burnout in a more scientific manner.

“So having a reliable, wearable system can help doctors objectively quantify whether a patient is suffering from depression or burnout, for example, and whether their treatment is effective. What’s more, doctors would have that information in real time,” said Adrian Ionescu of Nanolab, which tested the device. “That would mark a major step forward in the understanding of these diseases.”

However, until there are more concrete ways to measure burnout, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided the symptoms related to burnout.

These include energy exhaustion, mental distance from the job, overwhelming negative feelings or cynicism and a decrease in professional efficacy.

It’s important to distinguish between stress and burnout. Burnout cannot simply be cured by taking a vacation or cutting down on hours — it’s a slow rot that eliminates any sign of hope or inspiration in the workplace, which can make completing tasks much more difficult.

That’s why it is essential for business leaders to create a work environment that is open and honest about personal mental health struggles. Encouraging workers to take breaks when needed and offering them leniency during these stressful times will be crucial to help drive down the ballooning cases of burnout.

Credit: Canva

What The New Future Of Work Holds

The future of the workforce has taken on different meanings over the last few years. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the simple, slow-moving concept of a more flexible workplace has grown tenfold.

Now, the way we work is continuously evolving, from workplace design to technology adoption. So what can we expect moving forward?

Distributed workforces will continue to play a role moving forward, especially among white-collar companies.

Using video conferencing and instant communication tools, working from anywhere has never been easier. In fact, a survey conducted by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) of 1,200 chief information officers found that the amount of workers permanently working from home will double to 34.4% in 2021 from 16.4% pre-pandemic.

This means that hiring new talent will no longer be limited geographically. Employers can expand their talent search to wherever they want, allowing for a more diverse workforce.

Additionally, automation will become an important component to business operations. However, this will also create more jobs that will be needed to work alongside this technology.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), automation will displace 85 million jobs globally, but 97 million new roles will be created by 2025.

However, there will need to be more upskilling opportunities in order to prepare the workforce for these digital advancements. 

The WEF found that the top five skills for the workforce in 2025 will include: analytical thinking and innovative, active learning, complex problem solving, critical thinking and analysis, and creativity.

Credit: Bigstock

Machine Learning Platform Hopes To Improve Workplace Safety

Machine learning platform Intenseye has raised a $4 million seed round to help bring down the number of workplace injuries and illnesses.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, work-related injuries and illnesses can cost the U.S. up to $250 billion every year.

The company uses existing network-connected cameras in facilities and uses computer vision to monitor the health and safety of employees while on the job. 

Intenseye can then use this information to recognize if there are any health or safety violations happening in the workplace in real-time. This can range from not wearing a hard hat to ignoring distancing protocols.

The company’s dashboard includes federal and local workplace safety laws, as well as the organization’s own rules. In total, the service can identify 30 different unsafe practices that are common in the workplace.

The platform can also provide a compliance score and point out problem areas by using workplace safety compliance guidelines.

If a violation happens, employee health and safety professionals are notified by text or email so they can resolve the problem.

The company operates by charging a base deployment fee, then an annual fee dependent on the number of cameras the organization wants to use as Intenseye monitoring points.

According to cofounder Sercan Esen, the biggest challenge of the company is that the violation alerts do not identify individuals and does not store any video footage.

Credit: Bigstock
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