2020 has revolutionised how people view their workday and environment, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing important discussions around flexible working options in 2021, writes Brad Krauskopf, Hub Australia Founder & CEO.
The Victorian government recently announced that Melbourne’s private and public office sector would return to 75 per cent capacity, and while this was pushed back slightly in this week’s announcement, it is likely to occur very soon. With this, we are going to see an increase in the number of office workers within the CBD, but we should expect some new habits and the introduction of flexible policies to remain.
Flexible work options a priority
As Australia’s largest privately held coworking space provider, we’re already experiencing first-hand a change in the needs of small and large businesses when it comes to office space. Primarily, organisations choose to base their teams at Hub because it helps their teams love where they work and consequently, they attract and retain the best talent. With spaces across the country and further locations already set to open in 2021, we are confident that there will always be a role for premium office space within Melbourne’s CBD, but that doesn’t mean it will remain the same as it always was. One of the best things to come out of 2020 is that companies are realising that the primary role of the workplace is as a tool for creating culture, innovation, teamwork and social connection. This will bring a focus on the people that will use the space, rather than the space itself. So, what will the workplace of the future look like?
A hybrid working model becomes the norm
During 2020, people across every industry seemed to struggle with the shift to 100 per cent remote working, missing the daily social interaction, camaraderie, learning, and networking that many previously took for granted.
However, there are other aspects at play such as commute times, face-to-face requirements and home environments, making the introduction of a hybrid working model more likely than a complete return to office. Many business professionals will opt to work from home 1-2 days a week, while going back into the office for the remaining days.
Because of this, I expect many teams and individuals will find a personal balance of being on-site and working from home, rather than a rush to return to the office five days a week, nine to five.
WFH is accompanied with WNH (Working Near Home)
With hybrid working most certainly our new reality, the need for large corporate headquarters will likely be reduced.
The ideal alternative, particularly for those struggling with the negative effects of long-term working from home (e.g. mental health, technology, innovation and culture), is for people to access distributed work hubs and decentralised offices that provide work environments close to where employees live, helping them avoid long commutes, public transport, and higher-density CBDs.
I believe these sites will emerge at a rapid rate to provide people access to professional, secure and activated workspaces near where they live. At the same time, many businesses have already begun looking to flexible workspaces as an alternative to traditional long-term leases for CBD office headquarters. We believe we will increasingly see progressive firms simply provide an allowance to each of their staff and let them spend it to work wherever they work most productively and happily.
This option is smaller, more flexible, better suited to their new needs and budget friendly, making flexible workspace solutions the heart of how future business will operate. We also expect an influx in demand for WNH hubs in regional areas, closer to employees’ homes,
A greater emphasis on employee wellness needs
Companies that want to attract and retain the best talent will also need to place a strong focus on workplace culture and the workspace itself as employee expectations change.
I believe ‘What are my options to work flexibly?’ is set to be the #1 question in every job interview and annual review this year. Any company that wants to attract and retain the best talent, needs to have a strategy in place and know the available services that can allow their teams to work in flexible locations.
For employees that do have the option of workplace flexibility, they will be looking for an office experience that appeals to their ideal workday. At Hub Australia, we have a strong focus at all our locations on hospitality, quality amenities, diverse spaces, 5-star customer service to all members, and more, allowing us to give every employee from every business a healthy workplace culture.
This removes the worry from the shoulders of businesses who are members with us, providing an additional layer of flexibility and service that helps keep teams productive, happy and safe in their workspace.
It is something every business will need to consider as we continue into 2021. While the majority of our employees will soon be able to come back to the office, that doesn’t mean it is business as usual. We need to adapt, embrace flexible working options and continue to create a workplace culture that allows not only for business success and productivity but for happier employees and higher retention.
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