Flexible Working Spaces as the New Normal

Flexible Working Spaces as the New Normal

How the pandemic is helping to reshape how we work, live, and play.

As vaccination programmes roll out in the Philippines and around the world, many businesses are starting to see some relief. For some lucky companies, growth has returned, like tech giant Google, which recently posted record financial results. In fact, over 88% of S&P 500 companies recently reported positive quarterly results. At home, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the unemployment rate went down to 6.9 percent in July. Gradually but surely the economy appears to be getting better.

For many corporations, service, and professional businesses, the growth in popularity of hybrid working is becoming more evident as organizations of all types and sizes rethink their work office strategies. While this trend was already happening globally, the pandemic has expedited this shift to a flexible workspace model and to a level not seen before.

Office Hub and Spoke Model Spikes

The shift to a work office hub-and-spoke approach, which allows employees to work at company headquarters, at home or at a location near home, has led to a surge in demand for flexible workspace solutions. “The significant move to hybrid working has created unprecedented demand for our flexible work products,” says Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of International Workplace Group (IWG). IWG, the largest flexible work space provider in the world with over 3,100 locations and in over 1,000 cities worldwide, recently recorded new office enquiries and customer retention rates that are at pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the company’s franchise partnerships globally have grown 350% year on year so far.

Multinationals such as Google, BP, Barclays and Microsoft have all signaled their commitment to hybrid working for the long-term. For example, IWG added 900 new clients to its worldwide network of flexspaces during the first half of 2021. Over two million new users can now call IWG flexible workspaces their office and this represents the largest increase in IWG’s 30 year history. “The pandemic has certainly had a dramatic and permanent effect,” Dixon argues, “but it’s merely accelerated a trend that’s been underway for several years.”

Why It’s Good for Employers

A study by US consulting firm EY shows that US companies can save about $11,000 for each employee that works in a hybrid manner. Another prominent consulting firm Accenture found that 63% of organisations with high-growth characteristics have enabled ‘productivity anywhere’ workforce models. Not surprisingly, about 69% of negative or no-growth companies did not embrace any flexible work model for their employees.

Decreasing real estate expense is another key advantage for companies. Companies no longer need to lease large and expensive office space, which also incur not only higher rental expenses, but upkeep, maintenance, security, and utility expenses.

Employee recruitment and hiring no longer needs to be limited to employees living near company headquarters. The best employees can now be recruited over a significantly wider geographic territory and helping companies to recruit the best and brightest.

Recent studies have shown that employees working for companies that use the hybrid working model are also more productive (in many instances), happier, and tend to stay with their employers longer, thereby reducing expensive recruiting and training costs due to high employee turnover.

Why Flexible Working Space is Good for Employees

For employees, having the flexibility to spend a part of their work week at home or at a nearby flexible workspace can offer significant health and wellbeing benefits. Commuting to and from work is not only stressful, it is almost always a time of non-productivity. Recent mandatory lockdowns have only highlighted that commute time could be better spent on productive work at home or at a nearby flexible office. The time wasted due to long commutes can now be used to spend more quality time with family members and exercising, both of which ultimately increase worker health, job satisfaction, and employee retention. Flexible working space is not only here to stay, but its acceptance and growth is exponential.

However, working remotely does not necessarily mean working only at home, but oftentimes, working at a nearby flexible work space that offers all the benefits of a corporate office and the flexibility and convenience of being near the employee’s home. Remote employees continue to have access to professional receptionists, meeting rooms with the latest audio and visual equipment for meetings, high speed internet access, comfortable lounges and break-areas, and the ability to meet and converse with co-workers, clients, and partners in a professional setting. In many cases, flexible work space areas near home allow some employees to be free of the normal distractions and boredom when working 100% of the time at home.

In a recent email, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the company is launching a new hybrid workspace model that will allow 60% of its employees to work in the office for only few days a week. Approximately one-fifth of its staff will be allowed to work from home, and another remaining 20% may work from a different location altogether, like a flexible work space that companies like IWG offers. Change is happening and many companies are already on board with this hybrid work model.

What Next

As lockdown restrictions are being lifted globally, “We have seen companies across the world begin to shift their operations to the suburbs and towns where their employees actually live, and during the past two years IWG has opened almost all its new centres in non-city centre environments.”

Companies are beginning to realize that a flexible workspace model is ideal for employee productivity, job satisfaction, retention, as well as decreasing real estate driven costs for the company – not to mention benefits for society as whole due to less traffic congestion and pollution. In many ways, IWG and its flexible workspace solutions is leading the way towards a new work paradigm for the future.

VF Franchise Consulting and U-Franchise are bringing the biggest franchise brands from the United States, the United Kingdom (including IWG) and Asia for confidential, one-on-one meetings on October 13 and 14, 2021.  For more information register on https://www.ufranchiseasia.com/globalfranchisemeetandmatch or contact Rowee Altura at +63 917 622 4745 or email [email protected] or Mandy Nguyen at [email protected]

Author: Sean T. Ngo is the CEO and Co-Founder of one of Asia’s leading franchise consultancy, VF Franchise Consulting (www.vffranchiseconsulting.com). He is Asian American and has been based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for over 16 years. You can reach him at [email protected] or [email protected]

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