The past few years have disrupted the way we work and have allowed flexibility and hybrid work models to be the new normal. If working within a constrained environment makes you feel burnt out and uninspired, it’s time to re-think where you work. Today workspaces are evolving, not just the way they design their systems and processes but also their HR practices to accommodate this change. Being a part of organizations that support flexible workspace and working models can help individuals be more productive, inspired and will help in growth and retention.
Flexible workspaces allow companies, start-ups, freelancers and other independent professionals to imbibe a social networking environment and a space to de-stress throughout the day.
What are flexible workspaces?
Flexible workspace desk is a versatile space solution and a modern alternative to traditional office spaces. It is a workspace that can be easily rearranged and scaled up or down to accommodate requirements of your business. Also known as shared office space, flexible workspaces are dynamic in nature and adapt to whoever is using the space at any given time.
With spacious workspaces, adequate meeting rooms and attractive amenities, flexible workspaces offer a convenient office solution for start-ups and professionals.
Additionally, flexible lease terms and significant difference in occupancy cost are luring many enterprises towards flexible workspaces.
Typical features of flexible workspace include creative desking options, private offices, meeting/conference rooms, office amenities from printers to Wi-Fi along with flexible membership options ranging from monthly to yearly plans.
What are the types of flexible workspace?
Unlike traditional offices, a flexible workspace gives you the freedom to create your ideal office environment while cost-effective. Let’s look at some of the combinations of flexible workspaces in a coworking or shared workspace.
1) Hot desks: Hot desk is a desk in a workspace whose location may differ daily. Hot desks are cost-effective for remote workers, temps, and even visitors.
2) Dedicated Desk: As the name suggests is a dedicated workstation for you and only you! It offers you a private storage space apart from access to all the space’s amenities.
3) Private Office: A private office in a coworking or shared office space can range from a single-person space to the entire floor.
4) Virtual Office: Usually, business centers or serviced offices provide virtual offices as a service. Having a reputable office address improves local presence and builds trust, making them a popular choice among businesses expanding into new locations.
Why Choose flexible workspaces?
In today’s fast-moving corporate environments, employee flexibility is in the top ten requirements that working professionals of all age groups prioritize.
Flexibility today would be largely defined as the ability to structure the workday around their lives. An important aspect is to work with employees to decide where and how they work both at and outside the office. Flexible workspaces are designed to give employees a wide variety of working environments across various locations and offer professionals the freedom to choose where and how they work.
Employee Flexibility and Productivity
One of the key benefits of a flexible workspace is the ability to attract fresh talent and keep existing employees productive by providing a variety of amenities which gives you an edge over possible competitors. The amenities that have the greatest impact on employee happiness and productivity include well stocked cafes, comfortable lounges, and open areas.
- Flexible workspaces tend to improve productivity, both for the freedom they provide workers and the quality of the spaces themselves.
- It aims to create a comfortable yet fresh outlook towards the work environment.
A work environment that is visually and ergonomically appealing means that the space’s physical qualities make employees feel good. In a work domain, that ‘feel-good’ sense translates to a faster pace and higher quality of work.
The freedom to move around in the office has become a valuable workplace asset. Employees are more productive when working in different places around the office and outside it. For example, Samsung’s new U.S. headquarters is designed to spark collaboration and innovation. Strategic placement of vast outdoor areas sandwiched between floors lures employees to mingle and increase productivity.
Regarding the very people employed, you don’t want to “retain” your best. You want to keep them engaged, satisfied and invested by creating a fun and efficient work atmosphere.
Traditionally, workspaces resembled closed or cubicle layouts. However, open and flexible workspaces have gained popularity across multiple work environments. The ethos of flexible workspace encourages employee interaction regularly. Pushing staff to spend time outside their work desks and in zones better designed for specific tasks can improve mood and productivity.
A flexible workspace design can play a key role in breaking barriers in the office hierarchy. Employees sitting across from each other promotes collaboration. Having a Flexible Workspace helps start up an open and sharing work lifestyle. Having an open-door office wherein the entire leadership team, including the CEO, sits with the employees on the floor helps build a feeling of togetherness and honesty.
Today’s employees have high expectations of their employers, and it goes far beyond just a paycheck. A recent LinkedIn survey found that people would rather put up with lower pay (65%) and forego a fancy title (26%) than deal with a bad workplace environment.
Diversity as it allows Geographical Flexibility
Large firms are always looking to distribute their workforce from central offices to satellite offices by adopting a hub-spoke working model while focusing on de-densification and splitting up teams. It enables employees to work in their home towns or closer to the home resulting in reduced commute and carbon footprint, which is a major step towards sustainability.
On the other hand, startups do not have to worry about set-up costs and running multiple offices across multiple cities. They get to work in the economic hot spots that help them collaborate with other emerging and established businesses. Such strategic moves in the post-pandemic future will play an important role in thriving businesses.
Common Challenges for those shifting from Traditional Workspace Setup
Although flexible workspaces are extremely agile and impact employee morale due to open culture in some cases, one cannot deny the challenges associated with this shift.
- Inability to Personalize Workspace – All employees have a designated workspace in a traditional office space. Making a space their own within an organization gives employees a sense of belonging. Organizations and employees shifting from a traditional workspace to an open or flexible workspace may find the inability to personalize their space a difficult transition.
- Distractions and lack of privacy – While improved communication between departments is a key benefit of flexible workspace, the by-product – the lack of a quiet place, can be a drawback for some. Professions requiring knowledge sharing, such as designers, writers, and researchers, may find the flexible workspace conducive to productivity. At the same time, employees who are most productive in quiet places may struggle to focus, hampering their workflow.
- Limited spaces that may get overcrowded – A familiar concern for anyone who’s worked in a flexible workspace or a co-working space is the lack of automation. Co-workers can end up waiting for common spaces and may be left feeling anxious waiting for meeting rooms and not having anyone to solve these common issues. It may cause a relaxed and flexible Coworking space to become chaotic and confusing.
- Lack of essentials – Although most flexible workspaces will be well equipped in terms of basic office requirements, they can often lack some key essential features which are subjective to each business. Not having a dedicated high-speed fiber internet connection, lack of projectors in presentation rooms, insufficient office stationeries, or too few of these essentials in a multi co-working space can often raise an eyebrow towards its functional capabilities than traditional office space.
There’s little doubt that COVID-19 will impact the economy and the way business is conducted. The buildings we go to every day haven’t changed as much. But the tools we use to get work done have! With changing workspace guidelines due to long-term social distancing coming into play, rebuilding an entirely new structure might not be feasible, but re-structuring the workspace is possible. Smart workspace can help businesses rise to this particular challenge with minimal disruption, allowing teams to spread out over a larger space or to work remotely. We could see a rise in new types of workspaces in the future, like part-time offices, virtual offices and pay-as-you-go hot desking post-COVID 19.