Daily Digest News – May 17, 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:

WeWork Adopts Hub-and-spoke Model

WeWork is pivoting to a hybrid work model as it prepares to bring employees back into the office.

Starting June 21, WeWork’s UK employees will work three days in the company’s headquarters, one day from a WeWork location and one day from home. The firm will be using a “hub-and-spoke” model that will feature main hubs across the UK including in Waterloo and central London, with 50 spokes across the city.

“Working at home is really efficient when you have a specific task to do,” said Mathieu Proust, UK general manager at WeWork. “Working in the office is more about having impromptu conversations and meeting one another.”

Proust added that a company-wide survey revealed that staffers who have returned to the office have seen a 54% increase in morale.

According to Proust, WeWork has been trying to improve its flexibility arrangements and wellness practices throughout lockdown, and is working to continue these enhancements in the future.

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Addressing The Mental Health Crisis In The Workplace

A FlexJobs survey has found that 56% of employees experienced burnout during the pandemic, highlighting the other health crisis that has been occurring throughout this time.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month and parts of the world are starting to open back up, it’s essential for companies to review their own practices and how they may contribute to poor employee mental health.

“Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, and one is equally as important as the other. In the workplace, an employer needs employees who are not only present, but highly productive,” Scott Kirksey, CEO of BenefitMall. “Presence and productivity are often tied to a person’s mental health and, when conditions are left untreated, work performance suffers.”

Employees can make daily choices to ensure that they are maintaining their mental health. For instance, incorporating a nutritious diet, appropriate sleep, mindfulness and exercise have all been found to improve mental health.

Organizations also play a significant role in supporting the mental health of their employees, especially as society prepares for another seismic shift of reentering the world.

A Paychex survey of 1,000 American employees revealed that, while low morale more than doubled during the pandemic, 44% of respondents said their manager encouraged them to vent about work-related frustrations. This has been found to actually bring teams closer together.

Employers can continue creating this type of company culture by conducting regular check-ins with employees, starting out meetings with non-work questions and acknowledging stress and burnout. Doing so unifies employees and inevitably helps their wellbeing.

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Overworking Is The Largest Occupational Disease Burden

New analysis from the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization has found that long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and heart disease in 2016.

The findings, which are the first real look at the loss of life and health associated with overworking, reveal that the number of deaths from heart disease due to long hours increased by 42% from 2000 to 2016.

These findings solidify the impact that long work hours have on the health of people. Since long hours are responsible for one-third of work-related health issues, it is the largest occupational disease burden.

In fact, the study states that working 55 or more hours each week is associated with a 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to those working 35 to 40 hours a week.

This analysis comes at a time when the pandemic has shined a light on overworking and widespread burnout for newly remote workers.

“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “In addition, many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll end up working longer hours. No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers and workers need to work together to agree on limits to protect the health of workers.”

Credit: Bigstock

Los Angeles’ Office Market Will See Slow Recovery

A report from Marcus & Millichap has found that office vacancy in Los Angeles will grow 160 basis points this year to 18.5%, indicating a slow recovery for the market.

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Despite the increase in vacancy and falling rents, Los Angeles’ vaccination efforts have been very successful and restrictions could be lifted across the city very soon. This means that the office sector can finally start down its path of rebounding.

Still, expansion plans have been paused and many tenants have already cut down on their real estate footprint. Although first quarter leasing improved from the previous quarter, lease deals favored smaller spaces.

The report also found that new construction is putting downward pressure on the office market, with 4.2 million square feet of office space expected to be completed this year. Because of increased availability and subleases, signing leases for these new spaces may be difficult.

However, the South Bay saw its vacancy rate fall with 311,000 square feet of absorption. Beyond Meat took out a 280,000 lease in El Segundo, while L’Oreal absorbed the last 70,000 square feet at the same property.

Overall, while leasing activity will definitely be slow to return to pre-pandemic levels, investment already has. Each specific market, particularly in larger cities like Los Angeles, are seeing delayed recovery, but the overall national market is improving.

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How Vaccines Are Changing The Workforce

Increased vaccine distribution provides a glimmer of hope for the future of society. Now, business leaders are faced with the lingering question: When should we bring employees back into the office?

In just New York City, 45% of office workers are expected to return to the workplace by September. However, companies will need to make crucial changes in order to make this transition seamless as possible, while still incorporating the lessons learned from the past year.

This should start with addressing vaccine hesitancy. A March poll from Kaiser Health found that 13% of Americans do not plan on getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Business leaders have a right to require vaccination before allowing workers to return to the office, but most are avoiding this type of mandate due to potential backlash. A February survey of 1,000 in-house lawyers, HR professionals and executives found that a mere 6% will require vaccination, but 90% will “encourage” vaccination.

Some companies are incentivizing employees to get vaccinated. For instance, Dollar General and Trader Joe’s have offered extra hours of pay.

Once vaccine policies have been laid out, companies will need to navigate their workplace operations. For many, this means adopting a hybrid model that allows for both remote and in-person arrangements.

Microsoft is one example of a company that is pivoting to a hybrid approach, with its “Hybrid Workplace Dial” that allows the firm to adjust its timeline based on data about when disease is improving and when it may be burdening a certain area.

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Why Are Employees Switching Jobs?

We are officially entering a post-pandemic society as vaccinations continue to be distributed, states loosen their restrictions and businesses reopen their doors.

In 2021, experts predict that the economy will expand 7%, which indicates that many employees may be looking to switch their jobs in the near future.

In fact, Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the America Workers survey found that 1 in 4 Americans are preparing to look for new opportunities once the pandemic is no longer a threat. Even more, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index survey found that 40% of people are considering leaving their employer this year.

This is likely because the past year has highlighted what is most valuable to all people, and workers no longer want to compromise their happiness. Although many employees have been working harder than ever before, people feel that there is a huge lack of opportunity for skills development and career growth.

Along with the inability to advance their careers, workers have also expressed wanting their employers to offer more benefits that can help their economic wellbeing. In fact, the study found that workers consider benefits like retirement plans and health insurance to be crucial to their financial resilience.

Company culture has also been increasingly highly valued, and organizations that make it a priority will thrive and avoid losing their top talent.

“Leaders must be focused on cultivating thriving cultures of internal mobility, prioritizing continuous learning, and delivering robust benefits to support their workers,” said Rob Falzon, vice chair at Prudential. 

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