The New Role of the Office
For some years now, companies have been steadily embracing the idea that work is not a place you go, but a thing you do. The concept gained traction alongside the evolution of mobile and wireless technology, enabling people to work on the move and remain productive as they do so.
Of course, 2020 spurred this trend into reality not just for a select few, but for the majority.
Many companies now realise that working from anywhere is possible and in some cases productive, as staff are able to work more flexibly and enjoy better work-life balance. This begs the question: what happens to the office? Do we still need it?
At UBC, office space is our business. We experience first-hand how companies and individuals use office space on a daily basis, so of course we have been paying particularly close attention to office usage and trends over the past few months.
After the initial shock of lockdown subsided, we saw some interesting patterns emerging.
The traditional 9-5 mentality has been pushed aside. Some of our clients are now using a shift approach to share their office space, which enables their staff to use the office more flexibly and safely. That way, staff come in at different times to allow for social distancing and also to work around family commitments.
Of course, the coronavirus is still an ongoing concern. So why do people choose to use their offices when they could simply work from home?
“People want to come in for all sorts of different reasons, but mainly because they know they can come here, concentrate, and get their work done,” said Richard Bond, UBC’s Centre Manager at Enterprise House in Southampton.
“A lot of people don’t have the space or setup to work from home long-term. 6 months working from the kitchen table is not comfortable and it’s incredibly distracting, with kids or pets running around. On the other hand, for those who live alone it’s very isolating.”
There are a number of other reasons why people continue to use their offices. Interestingly, many of these usage trends show just how much the role of the office has changed within a few months:
- To collaborate: Rather than being a ‘place to go’ to sit and work, the office has become a place of collaboration. Our clients often use their offices to ‘touchdown’ with their teams, sometimes both in-person and over video calls, to fire up creativity.
- To (re)build company culture: Culture and brand values are intangible yet valuable assets that are created by the dynamic between people. Culture needs to be nurtured, but it’s at risk of being lost by working from home alone.
- For social interaction: The workplace isn’t just a place of work; it’s where friendships and business connections are made, and many of our clients say they have missed social interaction while working from home.
Some of our clients have realised that they now need less office space as people are able to use it at different times. A number of larger companies are now also using our offices as regional ‘hubs’, which enables staff to work near home rather than at home.
This is particularly evident at our Brentford offices at The Mille. Its location outside of London is proving popular for city centre-based companies that want to distribute their staff across smaller regional offices. Plus, the addition of parking means workers can avoid public transport.
For all of these requirements, flexible offices enable companies to resize easily without the concerns of long-term lease commitments.
To enable safe collaboration, we have recently implemented an online booking system for our meeting spaces, to allow local businesses to reserve a meeting space online. Safety starts with good planning, and by pre-booking, clients avoid the worry of having too many people congregating or waiting for a space to become available. Take a look and search for a local meeting room here.
At UBC, we’ve found that companies are using this period of time to re-evaluate their office requirements. Rather than letting their office go, by moving to a flexible office agreement, companies are able to resize their workplace to create a safer environment. This enables individuals to continue working creatively and productively together, while still benefiting from the new-found flexibility and work-life balance of working from home, or from anywhere.
Speak to us to find out how a flexible office can help your team continue working safely. We provide spacious, private offices and meeting venues at 7 regional locations across the UK, with flexible, cost-effective agreements to help your business navigate the new normal with confidence.