Daily Digest News – March 31, 2021

Daily Digest March 31

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:

More Companies Seek To Cut Down On Office Space

A new survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found that there is an increasing number of business leaders in the U.S. who are looking to cut down their office footprint this year.

The survey of nearly 700 leaders found that 21% of respondents are looking to cut down on their office portfolio this year, an increase from the 18% in the third quarter of 2020.

Additionally, of the leaders who planned to reduce their office space, 9% stated they would shed between 10% and 24% of their portfolio.

However, despite more companies considering reducing their footprint, the majority of companies still don’t plan to lose any office space at all.

Even more, 7% of respondents said they actually had plans to expand their space this year, which is an increase of the 5% from the third quarter of 2020.

These findings come as more big-name companies like Citigroup have announced they would adopt a hybrid work model in the future, allowing employees to work remotely and in the office throughout the work week.

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The Implications Of WeWork’s Merger

WeWork’s merger with special purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition Corp. means the company is finally going public after its failed attempt in 2019.

Of course, this is good news for just the coworking firm, but it could have major implications for the office market as a whole.

The deal values WeWork at around $9 billion, giving the company an influx of capital at a time when it has been cutting down on its office footprint as it attempts to remedy its infamous reputation of burning through cash.

Moving forward, a source has said that WeWork will continue to rightsize, meaning more exits are on the horizon. However, it is also looking at growing in specific locations dependent on market demand.

Experts see this as good news for landlords in the short term, because this means that WeWork actually has the finances to pay its current lease obligations.

The access to capital from going public will help the coworking operator grow, but Dror Poleg, co-chair of the Urban Land Institute Technology and Innovation Council, is not anticipating it to return to its 2018 and 2019 leasing pace.

“I am hopeful they will use this new funding to better serve the needs of their members because there is a demand for flexibility, and coworking will play an important role in the return to office,” said Jon Glass, Corporate Managing Director at Savills. “A financially solvent WeWork that learns from its prior mistakes will bolster key markets around the world, which is a benefit to everyone.”

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PwC Will Adopt A Hybrid Work Model Post-pandemic

PwC has informed its UK accountants and consultants that they will spend an average of two to three days each week in the office after the pandemic ends.

This makes the accounting firm the first of the Big Four companies, which include Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG, to fully flesh out its post-pandemic, long-term work arrangements.

The company told its staff that they would spend around 40% to 60% of their time in its UK offices or client sites, while working remotely for the rest of the week.

Employees will also be able to choose their work hours, allowing them to pick a schedule that best works for them instead of being required to abide by traditional 9 to 5 norms.

This follows other financial and professional services companies adjusting their work arrangements for a post-pandemic reality.

For instance, Nationwide told its 13,000 office-based workers they could work wherever they like.

However, some firms are still apprehensive about the remote working model, such as Goldman Sachs’ chief executive David Solomon who described working from home as an “aberration.”

Many companies are opting for a combination of both arrangements, like PwC, in order to maintain both the benefits of remote working and in-office arrangements.

“We’ve long promoted flexible working, and we hope today’s announcements make it much more the norm rather than the exception,” said Kevin Ellis, chair and senior partner a PwC UK. “The future of work is changing at such a pace we have to evolve continually how we do things to meet the needs of our people and our clients.”

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What Millennials And Gen Z Want From The Workplace

A Gallup poll from 2018 found that both Millennials and Generation Z share similarities in what they look for in an employer.

Over the past year, these themes have been amplified. With these generations making up almost half of the full-time workforce in the U.S., it’s essential for companies to make  changes to improve the employee experience.

One of the main characteristics of the workplace that Gen Z and Millennials desire is a culture of wellbeing. In 2020, employee wellbeing officially came to the forefront of discussion.

Gallup identified five elements of wellbeing that include career, social, financial, community and physical. Without nurturing all five of these elements, organizations risk a loss of revenue, and more importantly, culture. 

Additionally, these younger generations want their business leaders to be ethical and transparent in their operations as unethical standards can seep into the rest of the organization and become toxic to a company’s success.

Companies that do not prioritize morals lose the trust of their workers, which can impact the quality and productivity of their work.

Along with having an ethical backbone, Millennials and Gen Z also want a company that supports a diverse and inclusive workforce.

These generations tend to hold companies more accountable for lack of inclusion and equity, so DEI is no longer seen as a “benefit” of the company, it’s an absolute necessity.

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Planning Your Post-pandemic Work Arrangement

With vaccinations being distributed and some areas looking to slowly reopen, now is the time for workers to plan how they want their post-pandemic workplace to look like.

Unsurprisingly, it will not be a total return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Surveys have found that people performed exceptionally well in remote working environments.

However, this is still not a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why strategic planning is essential.

Understanding what you as a worker enjoyed from working from home, as well as what you may have missed about the office can help build a plan that balances all your workplace needs.

While the flexibility and lack of commute have been some of the biggest benefits to working at home, many professionals have said they miss socializing with their colleagues or simply lack the appropriate home office space to be productive.

If you’re a worker, it’s important to communicate with your manager or supervisor about your work experience over the past year, including what has and hasn’t worked.

Doing this allows you to take the necessary actions to make sure your new work environment is well-thought-out.

Addressing any potential obstacles that can come with this arrangement, and informing your employer about how they could potentially help, will be the best method moving forward.

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Lessons Missing From The Remote Work Experience

Your first day at the office likely included meeting new coworkers, adjusting to your desk, and awkward small talk in the break room.

However, a new generation of employees have never experienced this as they entered the workforce in the midst of the pandemic.

While there are numerous benefits to remote working arrangements, could the lack of a physical office environment hinder the perspective of these younger employees?

Let’s be honest: there are a lot of qualms with the office. Long commutes, fluorescent lighting and uncomfortable office clothes are hardly missed.

Still, there are lessons to be learned in the office. Being in a physical work environment gives you a crash course in professionalism, relationship-building, time-management, empathy and communication.

While some companies have done their best to adapt the workplace experience to a virtual environment, there is still a lot that cannot be replicated.

For instance, it can be difficult to pick up on the norms and hierarchies of the office when everyone is working separately. Zoom only captures a glimpse of daily work operations, so learning workplace nuances can be harder to pick up on. 

Additionally, without seeing colleagues everyday, there tends to be a lack of compassion towards everyone’s experiences. Miscommunication is easy in a remote environment, but the office makes it simple to understand the experiences of your coworkers that much more.

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