What’s in store for 2021?

As we near the end of a tumultuous year, the Executive Director of the Flexible Space Association, Jane Sartin, looks ahead to what might be in store for flexible workspace in 2021.

I can’t imagine anyone came close to predicting how 2020 has panned out, so crystal ball gazing for 2021 is perhaps a slightly dangerous activity.  However, with news of the vaccine roll-out making for a more hopeful outlook, I have been asking Flexible Space Association members for their flexible workspace predictions for 2021, and giving thought to this myself.

Whilst the current situation remains a challenging one, there is optimism for the year ahead.

The initial appeal of no longer having to travel further than a spare bedroom or kitchen table to get to work has given way to the reality that this scenario has a lot of downsides. The missed ad hoc conversations that spark new ideas, the loss of informal learning that occurs through seeing and hearing what colleagues are doing, even the day-to-day monotony of only seeing the same four walls and neighbourhood.

We’re not only working from home, we’re simultaneously living at work.

However, it’s clear there is going to be a degree of permanency to new ways of working.  Many people will find a mix of working from home and at an office to be effective, both professionally and personally.  Businesses having seen remote working is viable may now see financial appeal in not having to provide a dedicated desk for every employee.

This is where flexible workspace will have its moment.  In virtual meetings with Flexible Space Association members around the UK, the high demand for 1 to 3 person offices has been a clear theme, as people look for workspace near to home rather than at home.  Large companies are starting to examine the merits of workspace which doesn’t tie them to a fixed amount of space for years to come, and can perhaps see them based in more locations.

After the rain comes the rainbow, and once the economic turmoil starts to subside new businesses will emerge.  Many will make flexible workspaces their first home.

The pandemic is of course not yet over.  There are challenging weeks and months ahead.  But there is an optimism amongst flexible workspace operators that as we move through 2021 it’s a sector that’s ready to meet the new needs of working life.

22 December 2020

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