Daily Digest News – April 6, 2021

Daily Digest April 6

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:

Former Knotel CEO Criticizes New Owner

Amol Sarva, former CEO and cofounder of Knotel, has reportedly criticized the company’s new owner, Newmark, which recently purchased the company who had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Over the last few months, Newmark was a stalking horse on a process that used bankruptcy to take control of Knotel with around $100mm of new capital,” Sarva reportedly said in an email. “This process undermined lots of important relationships and hurt lots of customers and partners.”

Sarva added that he sees an issue with Newmark hiring “a group of Adam Neuman[n]-era WeWork bros” to take over the flexible office firm, which has been facing numerous lawsuits from landlords who claim Knotel had missed rent payments over the past year.

Michael Gross, who was the former Vice Chairman of WeWork, was revealed to take over Sarva’s position of CEO.

At the time of Knotel’s sale, Sarva’s official statement was much more optimistic, stating that he felt that Newmark could offer his company a clear path forward.

Credit: Amol Sarva

Office Pods Could Pave A Path For Landlords

A new report from Cushman & Wakefield has shown that Singapore and Shanghai are two cities that excel in their creation of office pods, which could be an ideal solution for landlords looking to bring tenants back into their buildings.

These pods are rentable and offered on a pay-as-you-go subscription model, allowing workers the chance to work as flexibly as needed.

For instance, Singapore-based company Switch says its pods are the “world’s first workplace on-demand platform.” Currently, the company has over 30 locations across various properties including retail malls, hotels, coworking spaces and more.

Shanghai property development firm Shui On also features office pods in their managed spaces, which are used on average for 4.3 hours each day according to Cushman.

“It offers optimal conditions for productivity, as well as the mental and physical health benefits of getting out of the home environment when working remotely,” the report said. “Users can also benefit from simple reservation and pod access through a mobile application, ensuring a frictionless experience.”

Not only are these pods beneficial for workers, but companies can use them as recruitment and retention strategies, while expanding their talent pool.

Credit: Unsplash

How AI Can Improve Company Culture

Artificial intelligence has become a useful tool for companies wanting deeper insight into how employees are performing, including whether they are engaged and the company’s culture is having a positive impact on the workforce.

For instance, in 2019, MIT Sloan Management Review and Glassdoor revealed the Culture 500. The online interactive tool uses AI and data from Glassdoor to rank high-profile organizations based on culture.

“AI technology can help leaders navigate this new world of work, where employees are increasingly concerned about the culture of their workplace,” said Dan Udoutch, co-founder and CEO of RSquared AI, a cloud-based platform that offers real-time analysis of employee engagement.

By now, most modern companies realize how important culture is to retention, collaboration, innovation and job satisfaction.

This is no longer a massively progressive concept — even the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that publicly traded companies must disclose human capital metrics that include employee experience and work environment.

Nurturing culture is tricky and requires more than an annual employee survey. That’s why AI usage can make it simply for leaders to keep track of their employees’ perspective in the workplace and how to improve areas of the company that need work.

For instance, RSquared uses a “cultural MRI,” which analyzes employee digital communications through various algorithms and looks into whether collaboration, inclusion and engagement are being attained. It can then identify if there are breakdowns in culture, and allow leaders to address any issues as necessary.

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Credit: Canva

How Companies Need To Adjust To The Office-less Future

While there are plenty of aspects of pre-pandemic life that society is eager to return to, like eating meals at restaurants and traveling on airplanes, returning to the office has been an outlier.

In fact, a survey showed that 80% of employees would like to continue working from home at least three days each week moving forward, which is a 27% jump from before the pandemic.

Although the past year or so has been tumultuous, anxiety-ridden and uncertain, the silver lining has been the diminishment of the remote working stigma. 

Now, the concept of the workplace has become blurred, with geographic location no longer a determining factor of whether a person can work for a specific company or not.

However, this transition requires rewiring of how to accomplish certain tasks in the workplace. For instance, while in-person working has benefits, companies need to find optimal ways to nurture collaboration with a distributed workforce.

This is because the perks of working remotely, such as no commutes and better work-life balance, have a very notable positive impact on productivity. Without it, companies could risk losing the progress they have made in the past year with their new work arrangements.

Credit: Bigstock

Landlords Offer Discounts To Offset Growing Vacancies

Landlords in large cities could continue to see major losses over the next few years despite some companies looking to sign long-term leases.

According to data from VTS, while more companies are keeping their offices, they are downsizing the space as they allow their staff to work remotely for part of the week.

This has led landlords to provide tenants with discounts up to 13% compared to rents during the first quarter of last year.

U.S. office vacancy grew to 11.9% during the first quarter of 2021 according to the report — a surprising result as more Americans receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

That is why landlords are offering rent breaks in order to prevent vacancies from growing anymore, but discounts could drive office building valuations down in large cities.

However, there is still a glimmer of hope. Over 45% of the tenants that are in the midst of negotiating with landlords are looking for commitments of at least seven years, up from 34% in 2019.

Credit: Canva

Employees Are Hesitant To Return To The Office

A new study from global staffing firm Robert Half reveals that around 33% of professionals would look for a new job if they were required to return to the office full-time.

Over half of employees also said they would prefer a hybrid model that allows them to work in the office and remotely throughout the week.

In fact, many workers expressed issues with working from home full-time, including poor relationships with colleagues, decreased career progression opportunities and more.

However, employees are still hesitant to return to the office, so employers need to make adjustments to make the transition less anxiety-inducing.

For instance, workers said the best way employers can support them in their return to the office is to offer them the freedom to choose their work schedule, offer paid commuting costs, a distraction-free workplace, relaxed dress codes and childcare services.

“After more than a year of uncertainty and pandemic-induced remote work, there is a growing desire among some business leaders to return to business as usual, including welcoming employees back to the office once it is considered safe,” said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half. “However, companies should be prepared for a potential disconnect between their ideal work structures and that of their employees.”

Credit: Bigstock
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