Daily Digest News – February 2, 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:

Can Hotel And Coworking Partnerships Last?

Despite tourism taking a huge hit over the past year, hotels were still able to bring some customers in by offering rooms as temporary offices.

For instance, flexible workspace firm Industrious expanded its coworking memberships by partnering with Wythe Hotel. 

The program, called Oasis by Industrious at Wythe Hotel, provides members access to transformed hotel rooms four times a month, as well as Industrious’ other locations in the U.S.

Industrious and Wythe will share revenue made from the agreement, but future demand for this arrangement is uncertain.

“We’ve created spaces that are comfortable, safe and functional for workers while our hotel partners help bring that extra element of warmth and service,” said Anna Squires Levine, chief commercial officer at Industrious. “This ‘special sauce’ combination resulted in a really unique offering that has guests wanting to return to the spaces on a regular basis and is ultimately the best testament to the success of these partnerships.”

While this is an ideal partnership for the hurting hotel and office industries, some experts wonder about the longevity of this business model.

“I see flexible office being a long-term viable option in the market, with work-from-hotel a likely niche industry,” said Aaron Jodka, a managing director of research and client services at Colliers International. “If hotels can partner with established, well-recognized flexible office space providers, there are opportunities for this to carve out a post-pandemic niche in the market.”

(Credit: Industrious at Wythe Hotel)

Why Remote Working Is A Challenge For Gen Z

While the assumption that the digitally native Generation Z would easily adjust to the transition to remote working, studies have actually indicated otherwise.

Research from Ten Spot has revealed that Gen Z experienced major challenges during this shift, particularly in terms of productivity, mental health and skill development.

In fact, 54% of Gen Z workers stated being less productive when working from home. For this reason alone, employers need to address these issues accordingly in order to make sure that all workers are engaged and productive.

One of the biggest hindrances for Gen Z were the distractions of home. Although employers can’t necessarily control their workers’ home office environment, they can contribute tools that make sure they aren’t working from their couches.

Providing them resources like a desk, ergonomic office chair and monitors are some easy foundational blocks to build a healthier home office.

“For some Gen-Z workers, this might be their first professional work experience post-college—and they may need some guidance on structuring their days to maximize productivity,” said Sammy Courtright, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer at Ten Spot. “Managers need to consider a more hands-on approach, and part of their job training should include tips on ways to structure their days.”

In addition to offering insight into the best way to manage their remote working schedules, business leaders should also consider more frequent check-ins with their Gen Z employees to make sure they are on the same page, as well as simply connecting with them on a human level.

Credit: Bigstock

Generational Work Preferences Could Fracture Community

According to a survey from process management firm Nintex, 80% of C-suite executives and 83% of VP-level employees have found remote working to be more productive than they anticipated.

However, this is compared to the 53% of junior-level employees who felt the same, indicating that there may need to be different work arrangements for these workers.

“Millennial and Gen Z folks, you’d think they’re used to working on apps and using mobile devices, but they still need a lot of support in their job function and role, and that’s where they’ve been a little more challenged,” said Dustin Grosse, chief marketing and strategy officer at Nintex. “They’ve felt frustrated because they haven’t gotten the hands-on coaching that they would ideally get if they were working in an office.”

Grosse added that because of junior workers’ need for social interaction, offices of the future may be primarily occupied by these newer employees.

While he agrees that there should still be some flexibility offered, Grosse says that employees at all levels could benefit from an in-person onboarding phase.

Although there are clear differences in the preferences of work arrangements among generations, policies that are applied to certain age groups of senior positions could leave the work community split. 

“There’s tons of research which has shown how, when you create nonuniform policies, it leads to professional and social isolation for the remote workers, because the in-office workers will horde information, social interactions, and access to resources and senior managers,” said Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.

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Credit: Bigstock

How Technology Can Optimize The Hybrid Workspace

There is no returning to the pre-pandemic workplace. Because of this, business leaders must figure out how to take the lessons learned over the past year and modernize their workplace arrangements.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that companies will become fully remote or in-person. In fact, the future of the workplace will likely be a hybrid of these two ways of working in a way that optimizes productivity and focuses on the wellbeing of employees.

A survey of global workers found that a measly 2% want to work in the office full-time and only 6% want to work remotely full-time. On the flip side, a staggering 92% want a hybrid work arrangement.

So what strategies will companies need to implement in order to adjust to this combined method of operating?

Digitization will be crucial to this approach as it aids in making the office safer and clean, while keeping employees engaged and connected.

For instance, technology can help with tracking time and meeting attendance, as well as automating the gathering and sharing of data to make operations run more seamlessly.

Additionally, technological tools can help ensure that work areas have been sanitized after use, occupancy levels stay low and that workers stay distanced.

On-demand workspaces could see an uptick with the adoption of hybrid working as employees are not tied to one specific desk throughout the week. Using an app, employees can see what workspaces are available, and book accordingly.

Credit: Bigstock

Getting Employees Comfortable With Advanced Digitization

According to Rob Wells, president for Asia at Workday, found that one of the most impressive things to have occurred last year was the ability to adapt.

Wells said that seeing leaders and employees come together to adjust to the concept of the “future of work” seemingly overnight was impressive and inspiring.

This transition didn’t come without challenges though. Now, as companies begin to navigate what the post-pandemic workplace will look like, many are questioning what their next move should be.

One thing that is certain is the digitization of the workplace. The last year has proven that anyone can become “tech savvy” with the right guidance.

However, this requires HR and IT leaders to train workers so they can better grasp how to use these new tools. 

Then, it’s essential to squash the fears that people have about new technology and data gathering. Using cloud technology will become the norm, but not having an understanding of how these tools work can be scary for some employees.

Additionally, while people are generally comfortable using their smartphones for everyday life, there is a wariness to using them for work-related tasks. However, using phones to communicate with colleagues or performing simple work tasks may be a more efficient way of getting things done.

“There is no question that if you haven’t got on a digital platform in your core back office systems by now, you need to,” said Wells. “If COVID has taught you nothing else, it should have taught you that.”

Credit: Pexels

The Pandemic’s Long-term Impact On The Office Market

The office market has been among the hardest hit industries due to the pandemic. While large technology tenants and other major service firms have paid rent throughout this time, small and medium-sized companies have seen increased rent defaults.

Additionally, for the time being, skyrocketing vacancy rates in the sublease market will continue to impact business for at least the first two or three quarters of 2021.

But what is the long-term impact? While some experts have proclaimed that the office will no longer be needed, this is unlikely.

Many employees have expressed wanting to come into the office at least a few times each week. This is why many companies are opting for generally smaller offices or a hub-and-spoke model.

The renewed approach to the office means the rebirth of cubicles and the fall of lavish amenities like on-site fitness facilities and cafeterias.

Companies will also need to be creative in their office approach in order for employees to come back in and feel safe doing so.

This will mean including modern air filtration systems to mitigate the risk of viral transmission, installing UV lights to kill bacteria, along with other necessary health and safety modifications.

Another change to the office leasing business will be leases themselves. Lease negotiations are expected to be more complicated and pricey as both tenants and occupants figure out how to allocate the risk and reward.

Credit: Unsplash

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