This blog was first published in Dutch on Smart WP
In the traditional employer-employee context, real estate is the least complex part of the hybrid working equation, and location is just one part of what’s needed in the recipe for hybrid success.
This month we take a closer look at the current buzzword ‘hybrid’ and the misconceptions that surround it, as well as what the future of work and working is shaping up to look like for employer and employee alike.
Is Hybrid working a result of COVID-19?
In short, no. Thanks to the pandemic, the term is certainly being over-used, but the hybrid working model developed long before our obsession in 2019 with hand cleaning and nose swabs. As an expert in hybrid working, Mike La Rosa says that whilst this term may now feel tired, it is still the easiest way to describe current working conditions.
In previous years, this model was reserved for several very different classes of employees at different levels: the executive jet-set class of employee who travelled a lot, or the sales executive whose most common workspace was their car, or the consultants who were not permanent employees but called on for projects when required.
We now find ourselves in new territory where employees across all levels find hybrid working appealing, and see no reason for it to be reserved simply for those who sit on the executive floor – many employees feel that the traditional model of being office-bound no longer suits them, but neither does the strict work – from – home kind of policies that COVID introduced.
What they really want sits somewhere in between.
Work shouldn’t be entirely restricted to a certain location, as we have all learnt most people can work from almost anywhere. The new hybrid workers see themselves as working from a variety of different environments – be it airport lounges, their own lounge chair at home, a coworking space, or their employer’s headquarters.
“Employers want to be able to offer their employees access to flexible workspaces, but in order to offer that to larger populations of workers, there’s a lot of things companies have to worry about. Billing, permissions, and access control – not to mention safety and security. They are still trying to wrap their heads around all that,” says Mike La Rosa.
But, aren’t coworking spaces just for startups and freelancers?
Historically, shared work spaces have come to be associated with startup businesses and freelances who needed to keep their overheads low.
But the focus has shifted: now coworking spaces are also coming to the attention of larger corporations as a potential solution. Not only is it not sensible to hold onto real estate that will only have a 20% utilisation, coworking spaces are making use of tools which provide the companies with excellent data and insight into their employees’ wants and needs.
Quite obviously, the carbon footprint of sharing a space is lower than holding onto a low-occupation building, and a big appeal for companies with larger numbers of employees is the controls they can have from a cost point of view. Coworking operators have not previously had the ability to accurately track the usage of their space, but thanks to tools such as upflex, they now have the capability to track their users as well as usage of the space. This helps to pick up patterns, see what one-time use spaces might be necessary, and log their usage from an ESG point of view.
How can we make Hybrid working work for both employers and employees?
Using upflex’s platform, employers have a great view of and better control of their spending. This innovative product helps employers understand their employees behaviour and use it to their advantage. A great example is running surveys through the platform in an effort to understand what employees want from their workspace. Based on that, they can then roll out a pilot and study the pilot data to see what the employees really need, as quite often the wants and needs of employees do not align.
This tool is something that employers can use to their advantage, as they will have access to real-time data.
From an employee point of view, not everyone can create a conducive work environment at home, so workplaces that want to reduce their real estate costs to zero need to be mindful of that when saying they no longer wish to have any offices at all. The answer is as usual not all black or white, but most people will say they need a space to go to SOMETIMES. Not every day perhaps, but collaboration is hard to come by when home alone.
Simply put, hybrid working allows the employees and employers alike to enjoy all the benefits of teamwork without the stringent rules of a bygone era. Employers who refuse to be a part of the workplace evolution underway risk losing valuable talent to more progressive companies. Coworking spaces are designed to be flexible, easily able to adapt to your unique needs.
“I understand that it is a daunting challenge at hand. And that real estate leaders can’t be expected to know all the unknowns. That said, those firms that opt,” concludes Mike La Rosa.
Hybrid working has offered us a valuable opportunity as coworking allows employers to provide their employees with all the tools they need without taking on the considerable costs of providing them all, whilst simultaneously helping to maintain business real-estate.