Over the past 10 years, London’s rising tech contingent has fuelled the evolution of traditional offices; from identikit boxes to innovative, flexible and connected spaces. As a result, London now has over 14 million square feet of flexible workspace, with a staggering further 50% expansion predicted by 2022.
The adaptability, cost efficiency and wellness benefits of flexible workspace are proving increasingly vital for a modern business to cut through the competition. What’s more, as technology continues to change the way businesses think, feel and operate, those who combine both of these elements will be at the forefront of modern enterprise. So, if tech and flex are to prove the winning combination, what are the key considerations for businesses and the benefits they can reap?
In an increasingly fast-paced and connected world, businesses need to be quicker and smarter, and flexible workspaces allow them to do just this by reducing costs and increasing productivity. In the first instance, a workspace should support, rather than restrict, a business’ expansion and contraction. Consider the office itself: can desks be added or removed easily? Is there scope to add walls or create private spaces?
Businesses should also consider working with a provider that offers diverse buildings with plenty of different spaces, as well as a cluster of buildings in one area. So, when the need to upscale arises, a business only has to move down the corridor, or just down the road at a push. This minimises disruption to employees and ensures that the business can continue to benefit from the area’s amenities and commuter connections. In short, a flexible workspace and lease can support organic growth.
‘Business memberships’ will also become increasingly commonplace for those looking to remain nimble and dynamic. If employees often spend time out on the road, the entire team will likely not need a permanent desk and so, by having a smaller permanent office alongside a membership that offers multi-site access to lounges and hot-desks, businesses can minimise overheads. Employees also don’t have to waste unnecessary hours commuting if they can use a space best suited to their schedule on a specific day, therefore also maximising their billable hours.
Thinking bigger picture, the war for young talent has never been fiercer. With fresh-faced employees seeking innovation – a recent report showed that 92% of millennials now identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting – flexible workspaces are paramount for attracting and retaining employees. Also, on-site facilities, like quality break-out areas, showers and meetings rooms overlooking the London skyline, will further help to create an inspirational and irresistible workplace. Smaller businesses can rarely afford these facilities independently, and so working with a provider that offers all of it for them can be incredibly valuable for boosting their image. Creating a workspace that employees, and potential recruits, are proud of can go a long way for employee engagement.
Well well well
Beyond increased productivity, this ‘business membership’ approach to flexibility has undisputed wellness benefits. Employees can reclaim hours that would previously have been spent commuting, to spend time with family, play sport or see friends. Time is increasingly priceless, especially in cities like London that never sleep. For modern businesses to survive, they should consider how best to manage employees’ work-life balance, and the role of real estate should not be forgotten in this process.
Physical space is of course key, and businesses and office providers are now well-versed on the benefits of natural light and ergonomically-designed chairs. However, wellness can be embedded in the very atmosphere of a space. By creating a sense of calm and productivity in a building, workers will feel inspired and motivated simply by walking through the door. Today, co-working, with connotations of beer taps, bean bags and noise, dominates the image of a ‘modern workplace’. However, many businesses can benefit from flexible workspaces with discreet working, quality services and like-minded neighbours.
Tech and flex
Business managers, architects and customers alike are tuned in to the influence of technology. However, in a generation where everyone is constantly busy, technology that supports seamless day-to-day operations will shape the businesses of the future. For example, digital concierge-style services will become increasingly prevalent in quality serviced offices. Also, virtual offices can offer international, regional and flexible businesses with a central address and capabilities (i.e. phone number and address) without the need for an actual presence in the city.
Going forward, intelligent buildings will provide the opportunity for nearly every business system to be streamlined. Businesses who make the most of this technology will ultimately prove the most successful, reducing waste and increasing productivity to meet client needs and drive sales.
Today’s technology will affect the profits of tomorrow, and businesses who understand this will stand a good chance of thriving in the future. However, those who understand the benefits of flexible workspaces, and combine this with technology, will be the sure winners.