FlexibleHub

The Ultimate Future Office: What workspace looks like going forward

3 February 2021

We are rapidly approaching an interesting time in the commercial real-estate sector. With companies being forced into integrating remote working as a standard, companies are now needing to make a decision as to how they are going to approach workspace going forward.

 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, various large corporates and small businesses has shown extremely different opinions when it comes to remote work.

 

While some of the largest businesses was quick to say “we are now a remote-first company”, others was quick to say that this was purely a temporary solution until people could safely return to their office. 

 

This article outlines some of the largest companies in the world and how they have decided to think flexible workspace going forward.

Option 1: Include flexibility and introduce a hybrid model

Across the globe, we are seeing massive interest in including more flexibility and introducing hybrid models within companies to allow for people to work how they wish. 

As previously mentioned, data and science surrounding productivity clearly show that people are very individual; some employees perform much better working from home where others perform better in an office environment. 

Introducing flexibility could mean downsizing your headquarters and allowing people to decide whether they want to come into work or not. Further, you can introduce flexibility by adopting the hub-and-spoke model (arguably the 4 words said the most in CRE during COVID-19). 

Imagine having an HQ in a central location while having smaller, flexible, offices in the East, West, South, and North of your HQ. This will drastically cut down on employees’ commute times, attract and retain talent and thus improve productivity.

Gearing towards a more unified solution is Google. They stated to all employees that they will be adapting a much more hybrid model going forward but that employees are still expected to come into the office at least three times weekly.

We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

As a workspace consultancy, FlexibleHub agree. We believe that there is a need to get together and have a clear sense of community when dealing with sensitive subjects or large tasks/projects. That shouldn’t, however, not take away the clear importance of more flexibility within the workspace.

 

Building and maintaining a community and collaboration has become much easier to do remotely then previously. 

 

Companies have been forced to think outside the box, and software companies like Zoom, Google, Microsoft and others were quick to build tools to support a remote workforce proving it possible to remain productive, even when not being in an office together.

 

Where the COVID-19 pandemic has also left many businesses with the need to cut down on costs, this is also something worth exploring if you are scared of a fully remote setup. With cutting down the traffic in the office, you can quickly downsize your square footage/meters by up to 50% resulting in high savings.

Option 2: Introduce a remote-first policy

Remote-first companies has to date been a rare sight, but it’s quickly becoming a large part of many companies. Large corporates has even said that despite COVID-19 workspace restrictions being lifted, they will continue to work on a remote-first basis.

 

 

Shopify, the large eCommerce giant is arguably one of the biggest companies to introduce a remote-first way of working. They will, indefinitely, allow their 5,000+ employees to work completely remotely and will be reducing their office space to 20-25% capacity.

 

 

Tobi Lutke, CEO, told Bloomberg that “they will adopt a “digital by default” mindset and adjust to a remote work environment. We expect that the majority of people will work from home and home offices in the future,”

 

 

Lutke continued. “The choice is really, are we passengers on this tidal wave of change? Or do we jump in the driver’s seat and try to figure out how to build a global world-class company by not getting together that often.”

 

 

While we can most likely not eliminate the office space completely, and neither want to. While we have approached the danger of productivity levels dropping with remote working for some employees, there are also job functions, restrictions and other reasons while people may still need to use space.

 

 

Other companies have introduced a remote-first policy but will offer individual employees access to office space. Others have chosen to offer employees a stipend towards co-working and flexible office space and eliminated their headquaters completely.

Option 3: Remain an office-first based company

We will start with the thing we commend companies don’t; remain an office-first based company. This may seem odd considering FlexibleHub thrives on selling office space. 

 

Large corporates like Netflix, Amazon etc. publicly stated that they don’t believe collaboration and productivity is nearly the same when working from home as opposed to having employees remain in an office space full-time.

 

Data and figures surrounding these statements are conflicted – some employees express and show that they are more productive while working from home as they don’t have the same distractions as they would in an office environment. 

 

FlexibleHub typically sees companies primarily in the financial and similar sectors going with this as a result of scarcity over privacy laws and surrounding issues when dealing with sensible information. We also see this as a primary option for companies who has a large in-person operation (logistics and eCommerce as an example).

 

The worlds largest eCommerce giant Amazon has shown great interest in remaining an office-first based company with recent acquisitions of various office space locations globally.

In conclusion, there isn’t any conclusion. Various scenarios and situations calls for different solutions. While we aren’t against a fully-remote setup, we certainly don’t believe the future will hold a “must come into the office all days from 9 to 5” anymore. 

 

Flexibility has never been such a large topic, and things are sure to change. As such, we predict many businesses will drift away from the typical office-first policy where suitable and introduce more hybrid and flexible solutions allowing employees to choose for themselves.

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