Daily Digest News – March 30, 2021

Daily Digest March 30

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 Flex Market Is Making Its Comeback

Around a year after the pandemic cut leasing volume by 92%, flexible workspaces are preparing to rebound.

According to a new report from JLL, the industry saw a steady rise in growth between 2014 and 2019. However, the characteristics that these spaces were once loved for became their Achilles’ heel during the pandemic.

Still, there are indications that the sector is emerging from the hole that was 2020. For instance, WeWork recently announced it would be going public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), allowing it to fund its growth plans.

In addition to this, companies are strategizing their post-pandemic models that largely include hybrid arrangements, allowing workers to work from home and in the office. This means that the need for flex space will likely grow.

“This is more meaningful than a shifting of deckchairs,” said Ben Munn, managing director of flex space at JLL in the report. “Companies and investors are taking a different view on flex space entirely and are willing to invest because they see this as a bigger proportion of the overall office market than it is currently.”

Munn anticipates that the flex market will return to growth in the second half of this year, with flex space operators making their own business model changes, such as management agreements, in order to become more sustainable.

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Why We Need A Hybrid Workforce

Working in sweatpants and eliminating daily commutes once seemed like a dream, until the creeping reality of isolation set in.

After a year of little to no face-to-face interactions with our colleagues, the idea of coming into the office doesn’t seem so bad now.

However, workers aren’t ready to give up the perks of working from home just yet. Lack of daily commutes has decreased work-related stress levels, as well as expenses for gas and work clothing purchases.

Even more, workers have had a chance to enjoy more time with family and personal hobbies. 

On the other hand, there have been some clear negatives to the remote working experience. For starters, the lack of socialization has hindered a lot of creative and collaborative aspects of the workplace.

Additionally, some leaders have noted that onboarding new talent has become increasingly difficult in a virtual environment since new hires need face-time to fully understand the culture of the workplace.

By now we’ve all heard the term “Zoom fatigue”, and it is having a negative impact on how well employees accomplish their projects. Being engaged in meetings all day takes away from the time that could be put towards getting work done.

That’s why companies are looking to adopt a more flexible approach to the workplace moving forward. A hybrid workforce nurtures the perks of both in-office and remote environments, while eliminating the downsides of these arrangements.

UK Workers Could Return To The Office Quicker Than Expected

A new survey from RICS has found that UK workers may come back to the office quicker than anticipated.

The poll has shown that 80% of employees will return to the workplace after the pandemic has subsided, up from less than 60% expected from the same poll conducted in the previous quarter.

The RICS UK Facilities Management Survey revealed that more respondents believe that workers could come back into the office in larger numbers than initially expected.

At the same time, the study found that workplace relocation management services are expected to see the strongest growth over the next year as leaders work to transform office spaces to meet new needs of the workforce.

Additionally, employment levels are expected to grow with a net balance of +24% respondents reporting an increase in the amount of workers within their sector.

“What we’ve seen is employers using this time to look forward to and plan ahead for what the ‘new normal’ will look like,” said Tarrant Parsons, RICS Economist. “Effective facilities management will be even more crucial as we build back from this pandemic – the positive sentiment expressed by our professionals on the ground in this survey is light at the end of this dark tunnel.”

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Employees Are At Their Breaking Point

Achievers’ fourth annual Employee Engagement and Retention Report has found that 52% of employees are looking for a new job this year, a 43% increase from 2020 and 2019.

The survey of 2,000 employed adults across North America found that the pandemic has pushed many employees to their breaking point at their current organization.

But what exactly are workers looking for and what do employers need to do in order to boost their retention levels?

Feedback is key. Hearing what employees want from their workplace will be important when creating post-pandemic policies and strategies.

The survey showed that 60% of respondents said their organization sought feedback on some of the following issues, such as improving the employee experience and company culture, getting involved in racial and social justice matters, and their remote or hybrid work preferences post-pandemic.

Still, employees reported little to no action to address these issues and 19% of respondents said their company is horrible about acting on feedback.

Another way to improve the post-pandemic workplace is to foster a culture of recognition. With 71% more employees being disengaged this year than they were at the beginning of last year, it’s essential for employers to do more to improve their company’s culture.

This is not only vital for high quality work, it is needed for retention. So show employees that they are appreciated for their contributions and let them know they are an essential part of the team.

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AI’s Impact On Commercial Real Estate

AI and automation is forcing big changes in white-collar industries as these roles become more reliant on modern technology to operate.

AI is expected to impact how we use offices, how commercial real estate leaders build out their spaces, and how employees interact with the workspace overall.

“What we’ve seen over the last year is the office is being redefined, and employers are stepping back and trying to understand the purpose of physical space,” said Kathleen Cahill, Global Innovation Hub Head at Cushman & Wakefield. “The commonality is that physical space needs to drive more value to employers and occupiers, and technology is the main way to do that.”

In fact, a 2020 survey from Deloitte found that 8 in 10 corporate effects had already incorporated some type of automation to take over repetitive tasks and improve efficiency.

According to Mark Muro, policy director at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, expects that technology will become a mainstay of the office in the future. These tools have the ability to improve productivity and allow professionals to focus on higher-level tasks that require the human touch.

Along with this, the way CRE is managed and operated will be transformed. In fact, Global Workspace Analytics president Kate Lister stated that 80% of typical floor space will be dedicated for collaboration rather than personal use.

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UK Serviced Office Firm Ceases Trading

iHub Office, a serviced office operator in Birmingham and Manchester, has ceased trading and its staff of seven have been made redundant.

Arvindar Jit Singh and Rajnesh Mittal, partners at business advisory firm FRP, became joint administrators of iHub Office earlier this month.

During the pandemic, the company faced major financial obstacles due to more clients working from home not needing office space. 

“iHub Office has been unable to meet its financial obligations and has become insolvent,” said Mittal. “We’re now focused on ensuring efficient communication with creditors as part of our statutory duties and working with the staff at iHub Office to help them access the appropriate redundancy support.”

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