Flexible Workspace Supporting Flexible Working
Andrew Butterworth (pictured), Commercial Director at Flexible Space Association members Bruntwood, reflects on the importance of flexible workspace to the shift towards flexible working.
The flexible working phenomenon is an unstoppable trend. Employees and entrepreneurs are increasingly expecting to be able to work where and when they want to, without constraints.
In fact, a YouGov survey conducted last year found four in ten (42%) UK adults work flexibly and for 61% of us a ‘good job’ constitutes having the ‘flexibility to work the hours and patterns that suit them’. Companies need to adapt to ensure maximum collaboration – even when we are working out of different locations.
After all, flexible working is of huge benefit to employers – not just employees. Research has shown workers who can work flexibly are more productive and less likely to take leave. Flexible working also supports a healthy work/life balance for the workforce, something that features high on the wish-list of most modern-day employees.
Of course, having a flexible work policy in place is great but, to make it truly effective, you also need a workspace that supports flexi-workers and their multitude of preferences. Here’s how the workspaces of 2020 and beyond are set to play a part in the new the flexi-era.
Spaces to Suit Every Task and Work Style
Flexible working isn’t just about changing work patterns, it’s about changing where and how we work. People need spaces to think, spaces to focus, spaces to create and spaces to collaborate in – and to have true flexibility they should be able to move around these spaces during their day, to support their varying tasks and moods. The ultimate flexible workplace will incorporate a variety of pick and mix locations to choose from, including collaborative co-working areas, focus booths, meeting pods, break-out spaces and opportunities to work on roof terraces or in shared lounges.
Choice is at the heart of the new workspace world and that is being delivered in a variety of ways. At Bruntwood, for instance, our co-working customers benefit from our multiple locations. They can access and work from any of our buildings, so if they don’t want to work from home, but still need a change of scenery they can go to any of our co-working workspaces and enjoy the inspirational spaces and facilities for free.
Technology Enabled Spaces
Flexibility and mobility go hand in hand. It’s why at Bruntwood, we’ve devoted time to developing and testing a connected building solution which provides our customers with the ability to work anywhere in a building. In the buildings where we’ve implemented it, a customer can take connectivity from us in their suite, for instance, they can still access their secure network from shared amenities like the co-working lounge or roof terrace.
Wayfinding technology is likely to gain traction in the ultra-mobile, flexible workspaces of 2020 and beyond. The perfect example of smart technology, wayfinding systems let workers use a digital display screen to quickly find a space to work, locate a colleague, or find their way around an unfamiliar building.
Access to conference call facilities will also be important – helping businesses and their employees to stay connected, no matter where they’re working. When combined with high-quality collaborative space, to enable plenty of relationship-building interaction, conference call tech will enable people to work together across business and location boundaries.
Flexible working plays a big role in supporting today’s much sought after work/life balance. And, as Millennials become the dominant office influence, their desire to be in environments that help achieve this healthy lifestyle will have a huge impact.
To meet the needs of the future flexi workforce, workplaces need to act as social hubs as well as offices. Buildings that can help businesses to enhance their employee experience by offering access to amenities like gyms, games rooms, meditation areas, yoga rooms and green space are likely to be in big demand. Quiet space where staff can escape, switch off and recharge for a while will also help towards creating an attractive workplace that is flexible and wellness-focused in equal measure.
As 9 to 5 work patterns become a thing of the past, the workforce of the future is set to be a flexible one. Our workplaces are evolving at a rapid rate to support this shifting dynamic. Happily, that means more variety, more freedom and more vibrancy in the places we work than ever before.
6 January 2020
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