The future of the office. It has a future but what is it? With an even more agile workforce and technology enabling significant elements of work to be performed wherever and whenever – there is a need to rethink our offices.
Agility seems to be becoming a keyword. An agile workforce has large benefits and applying this to work to the post pandemic world shows that people will be more agile in where they are working. Choosing a location that works for the work they need to get done – this doesn’t naturally correlate to a set number of days in the office or at home (unless the job is very monotonous) but means flexing the days and locations week on week. To accommodate this, an employer needs to be adopting a flexible working policy. Potentially adopting a trial policy first (or making it clear you are testing out initially) to see how things work for your employees.
So how does all this work in terms of the real estate footprint? Well like for like you would assume less space is needed for the same number of employees. Simple right? But when you overlay creating a workspace that is now multifunctional means the space you gain in taking out “desks’ ‘ is replaced by larger collaboration spaces. If I think about some offices I visit, the amount of space now taken up by events and hospitality spaces is significant. So if you own the space then either sub-letting or maximising feels the best option. Where space is leased the option to me seems to be do you adapt the core space and then look to partner with a coworking operator to provide more flexibility of space across the Country.
So how do you use the office going forward? There has to be a focus on supporting the wellbeing of employees and developing the culture of the business. To achieve this there will be a need to reconfigure the existing space (or move to other space). The reconfiguration of the office should enable collaboration and also think about the future and potential further disruption. Have an office fit for the future.
So how do people see using the office space – it’s very much focused on people. An office can be used for team bonding & relationship building. This may have been done externally previously but with space already available space can be remodelled in existing offices to create environments conducive to this. This will ultimately facilitate greater space for collaboration. This can be taken further in terms of learning & development needs. There is also the flip side of an external view – meeting clients is probably less easy at your home! And therefore meeting at an office – whether your own or a space you can use.
And above all there needs to be investment in digital. Hopefully the last year has taught us that technology plays a key part in our working roles – this applies across professional services to manufacturing. Technology will support hybrid working, a more agile workforce but ultimately can make the office better. This can be embedded within the Real Estate and Workplace strategy of the business. You can see more about the Future of Work: Workforce of the future – The competing forces shaping 2030 and Employers set to reduce office space by up to 9m sq ft – the equivalent of 14 skyscrapers