5 perspectives of sustainability in the flexible workspace industry!
The flexible workspace industry is heavily marketed as promoting its green environmental credentials and low carbon footprint, championing less commuting, LED lighting, green teams, roof gardens and electric car charging points.
But there are many elements to sustainability and not just those relating to the buildings that people work in and they can fall into three areas – economic, social and / or environmental. To me, it’s all about ‘optimum performance and efficiency’, it’s about balance.
What about sustaining energy and productivity, the wellbeing and creativity that your members and teams can benefit from in your workspace? Ultimately this helps both member businesses and your flexible workspace business to succeed
Let’s look at the benefits and positive impacts of sustainability in the flexible workspace industry from various perspectives, here are my top five:
- Individual business members:
- Given reliable & transparent connectivity and infrastructure enables better engagement and connectivity with your team and your clients
- Sense of community & belonging that you might not get working from home boosts morale and energy
- Networks, skills & expertise that you might not otherwise have access to
- Exposed to more diverse personalities, background, cultures which can often drive creativity and ideas
- Various working and meeting environments to use throughout the day depending on your mood or the project that your undertaking
- Higher energy /morale/ support / feeling of continuity
- Enables distinctive boundaries between work and home life leading to a less stressful home life
All of these can result in you being more likely to reach your optimum performance. Cultivate that flexible mindset that can easily move with the continuously changing demands of life.
- The employer promoting remote working from flexible workspaces
- Enabling team members to utilise flexible workspaces goes a long way towards your corporate social responsibility policy
- Reduced requirement for large office buildings with long lease terms which has a positive impact on your carbon footprint in terms of the building’s energy consumptions
- Less capital outlay on equipment, furniture, overheads
- Less commuting for the workforce as they’re likely to be working closer to home
- A better work life balance for employees, often leads to more focus, engagement, creativity as well as better morale.
- The infrastructure & connectivity of flexible working spaces is likely to enable better reporting and continuity as well as more transparent, two-way communication and company culture
- Companies have reported reduced sickness & stress related absences
- A positive shift in the employee’s perspective of the employer and reputation
- Improved staff retention rates
- Improved workspace ergonomics / security / logistics
All of these areas can increase the probability of productivity and efficiency which will ultimately lead to increased success for your business.
- Local community & fuelling the local economy
- Increased footfall to the local area
- Increased expertise, skills and networks
- Increased spending – statistics suggest that the daily economic injection per flexible workspace member is approx. £8.00 (the main beneficiaries of this are generally hospitality)
- Potentially creation of new jobs
- Combined this can lead to new investment and growth, the creation of improved infrastructure, new capital projects and increased housing.
Smaller cities and towns such as Cambridge and Bristol are seeing a very positive benefit from the growth in this industry with more and more businesses locating outwards.
- Owner / operator of the building and / or workspace:
- Hybrid and flexible working’s here to stay, fewer businesses are signing long term leases and more are moving towards flexible working models. This is a very positive, evolving and rewarding industry to be involved in
- Opens you up to diverse networks, relationships and industry experts
- Enables you to create and future proof your property portfolio with offerings, audience that fit with you and your values
- Encourages you to continuously innovate and be proactive not reactive
- The UK government has now put in place tax incentives to encourage investment in sustainability improvements in building e.g. air source heat pumps, insulation upgrades. But, in the world of tax, which can be complicated, each case needs to be considered on its own merits.
Allows you to live a flexible and energy filled life making your time and offerings work for you.
So, what is a sustainable flexible workspace? It’s actually very difficult to define…. is it about the people inside the building or the building itself?
- Factors that would be associated with the building itself
- More local workspaces mean less commuting + lower carbon emissions
- Offer energy benefits over working from home – more energy for heat provision & lighting
- Some spaces implement smart meters, LED lighting & motion sensors, electric car charging points, car-pooling initiatives etc for added efficiency
- Indoor air quality & ventilation is generally of a high standard
- Large windows and extra light
- Ergonomics of the workspace
- Many have green outdoor spaces including roof gardens
- Wellbeing initiatives including green teams, environmental policies & awards
- Social criteria for wellbeing
N.B. not all of these are brand new buildings, some are decades, centuries old and have been very cleverly renovated…this in itself is bringing old and disused buildings back to life.
This is such a diverse topic in the context of the flexible workspace industry and to sustain optimum performance you need a balance.
For example, everyone talked about ‘working from home’ as being the new solution to flexible working and maximising performance. Yet many soon realised that there’s often a lack of connection, infrastructure and many distractions that don’t lend themselves to this model of working. If you work from head office five days a week this is great for connecting but you can quickly tire from commuting and constant face to face meetings as well as working in an environment that doesn’t suit you. Hybrid working and flexible workspaces closer to home often work well. When employers and employees can communicate openly about what works best for them as individuals and for the role then a sustained balance can generally be found.