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52
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52 (147) 2022

Real estate and construction

Hybrid work – a better way to work, a better way of life

By Pawel Ornatek, country manager Poland, IWG PLC
Header pawe  ornatek 4


The past 24 Covid-dominated months have seen a boom like never before in remote and home-based working. This has effectively made hybrid ways of working the norm for many. But it’s really just an acceleration of a trend that’s been underway for many years, in which firms are redesigning their property strategies. Let’s see, what the shift to hybrid working will mean for business.

Covid-19 restrictions and long periods of working from home became an enforced trial of hybrid working; its success means the world of work has changed forever. We are certain today that employees won’t go back to the traditional five-day commute as the pandemic recedes. Old-fashioned daily commutes will not become standard practice again. In fact, Covid-19 has been a catalyst for change rather than its root cause. The shift was happening anyway and companies offering flexible office space, such as IWG, the global leader in the sector, were enjoying a period of incredibly strong trading, pre-pandemic.

Technology is the main driver of what was originally an evolution towards hybrid working. During periods of lockdown, companies realised things could continue. For most, productivity was maintained – in some cases, even improved. Businesses that might have taken years to adopt more flexible working practices were suddenly dealing with distributed teams, and the effects of this were striking.

What leaders learned during the pandemic, is this: done well, hybrid working is much more efficient and lower cost for businesses. Just as importantly, it’s what people want now when they’ve experienced the work-life balance benefits the hybrid approach can bring.  Additionally, employers were grasping how they would save considerable sums each year by reducing their reliance on expensive city centre locations.

What employees learned is this: hybrid work, enabling staff to split their time between home working, visiting a nearby regional office, like Regus or Spaces, and spending the occasional day at HQ (which might be a downsized city-centre space in a shared building) is a true, better way of life and work.

After years of an increasing emphasis on work/life balance, the message was finally getting through –  technology really could mean freedom from the daily grind with no impact on personal or corporate performance.

So, we see clearly that the role of the company head office will change significantly in the wake of the pandemic. The office will still be a very important place – but a place where collaboration happens, and also a place for social engagement. Corporate HQs will no longer be everyday bases for employees. The base will be a mix of home, office and a ‘third place’.

Flexible workspaces, like Regus or Spaces business centres, already fulfil this ‘third place’ function, offering firms the ability to create networks of ‘satellite offices’ close to where staff lives. In turn, this empowers employees to connect with local colleagues and work from well-equipped, professional environments that are quick and easy to travel to.

We know now, that commuting is the key enemy. The problem, for people and their employers, is the time it takes for an individual to leave their home and arrive at a place of work. Commuting daily for only one hour to and one hour back from work means 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month, 480 hours a year! Dividing this by standard 8-hour workday we get 60 days - or 3 months!
No, we don’t need to spend that time commuting to the HQ location only to work there on our laptop, which most probably we carry home most of the days anyway!

In the new world, people are able to work where it’s convenient and get together as and when required. Companies will have less fixed space, reduced real-estate costs and greater access to flexible working environments. And so, we got to the 15-Minute City.

The idea of the 15-Minute City – originally conceived by Professor Carlos Moreno of the Sorbonne – is built on the notion that people should ultimately be able to access everything they need for living, working and leisure within a 15-minute walk or cycle ride. Is it truly possible – for sure it will become more and more the new reality – it’s already advanced in some parts of the US and Europe. This is because the elephant in the room is the environment. Post-pandemic, every large company will be focused on reducing its carbon footprint. Cutting your workforce’s need to commute by giving them access to a local office base, will make a huge difference. The pandemic has brought forward technology and digital engagement by a decade. People are more comfortable doing things remotely.

There are also significant advantages of hybrid working for businesses looking to recruit new talent. Geography gets flattened out. A company can employ people anywhere in the world – they don’t have to be in proximity to a central office building. People will adjust easily to hybrid working, but processes will have to be in place for technology, security, and productivity. In other words, business leaders need to plan and prepare for this transition in the way they would for any other. Companies should reinvest some of the savings they make on real estate in bringing people together effectively.

IWG flexible workspaces are more than just open-plan co-working offices. There are fully-furnished private office suites, allowing customers to build a dedicated space with private work areas, including meeting rooms, while still enjoying all the amenities of the shared flexible workspace. At the other end of the spectrum, business centres offer virtual office and drop-in services so flexible solutions can truly be tailored in accordance with clients’ needs.

Fewer and fewer companies need office space that is just a sea of desks. Hybrid working is the future, and it’s coming to life around us right now. Leading the exponential growth of demand for flexible office space, IWG opens doors for entrepreneurs, landlords and office building owners to become a partner or to buy franchise licenses. They may now capitalise on this once-in-a-generation opportunity by joining the world’s number one workspace and co-working provider as a franchise partner. With a proven business model and leading global brands, they can transform the untapped potential of aim for a new kind of customer in the fast-changing market into exceptional cash returns.

Concluding, the future of work is evolving for the better. Every company will innovate and push. Employees will demand a hybrid work model - the world has gone digital; technology is a great facilitator and this will strengthen this direction. We can look forward to a future where people work close to where they live, and there’s a renaissance for small towns where businesses, individuals and the environment benefit.

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