The hybrid & remote workplace features heavily in the property sectors!
Some fantastic flexible workplace conversations & speakers at PropertyWeek‘s recent WorkSpace Conference.
Hybrid & remote working featured heavily and I particularly enjoyed the discussions around repurposing offices and exploring the question “Employee experience, how can we work harder to get employees to commute into cities?”
No longer can we expect people to commute for hours to do the same job they can do at home, it’s all about the employee experience, human centric, there is most certainly a spotlight on this now! “It’s about the psychology of people, the commute has to be worth it.”
There’s been a good few workplace conferences recently and a lot of them have had several common themes running through them.
Highlights and trends have centred around sustainability and employee workplace experience from various perspectives as well as ‘working to earn people’s commute not just to compute’, re-educating around the flexibility & use of workspace through to the changing demands and being able to adapt in the moment.
As a hybrid & remote workplace coach a fascinating focus for me was the conversations around the change in generational demands and expectations in the workplace right now. I’ve been researching into the use of reverse mentoring across multi generational skills and experiences in organisational workplaces and the impact this is having is very positive across the board.
Recent talks include PropertyWeek’s Workplace Conference, GCUC UK, All-Island Female Entrepreneur’s Business Conference with WomenInBusiness, through to Workplace Trends Conference – ‘evolving ways of working’ and the European Coworking Conference in November.
What has made a big impact on me is the importance in our ability as both an industry and as workspace operators, advocates and educators to continually adapt & flex in a fast paced workplace, and move from best practice to action orientated.
Here are some of the key takeaways with a common thread through all of the recent future of the workplace events:
1.Changing demands for office use & our ability as an industry to continually adapt in the moment and almost anticipate what might come next – evidence & action based not just following best practice. A great quote that came up in the Workplace Trends Conference was – “the future is only the future until it’s here.”
Neil Mclocklin of Knight Frank was a very engaging speaker at PropertyWeek’s conference explaining the psychology around the significant range across countries of those using the office versus hybrid and remote working and these depended on the following:
- Management styles, cultures
- PreCovid workplace maturity
- sectors within the markets
- Commuter patterns and distances
- Housing supply & demand
2.Workplace experience – we need to re-educate around the best ways of using a workspace, be able to utilise the tech, the infrastructure beyond our mobile devices & be really flexible in terms of what the buildings can be used for. Really understand what the end user needs to thrive in different situations, for different tasks, at different times of the day, including not just the physical buildings aspects but also their intangible surroundings, networks – this can include varying forms of lighting, seating, textures of fabrics, experiences, collaborations. 360 degree feedback & surveys can give massive potential here for all stakeholders.
3.Employee experience – as Paul Urmstom, Area Workplace Manager for NatWest Group said “We need to be commuting for the right reasons, working to earn people’s commute not just to compute.” The norm now for many is to work from home on a Friday, possibly two to three days a week in the office or even three days per fortnight. If you want your teams in on a Friday there has to be a compelling reason & experience for them to want to come in.
4.Talent attraction & retention – if firms want to attract new skills from wider geographical pools and retain their teams then they have to offer flexibility in terms of not just place of work but also hours of work. How are you measuring output, is it via what days & time employees are showing up or via their actual proven results?
5.Sustainability – this comes up again & again and has to be looked at from varying perspectives, both responsibilities & benefits, including the member’s, the employer’s, the building / owner / operator’s as well as the local economy & community.
6.Collaboration – it’s now for operators and landlords to really work in partnership and collaborate with flexible workspace members and tenants. Only then can we truly make a difference in creating a sustainable environment.
Apparently, right now there is the equivalent of 16 of London’s Gherkin buildings worth of empty space in central London!
“Unless we are using property effectively there is no value in it, it needs to be an aligned partnership, be customer & employee centric.” PropertyWeek’s WorkSpace Conference
7. Changes in generational demands & expectations in the workplace as well as change in the way we live.
The 2020 decade is the first to witness four distinct generations in the workplace at one time, holding different world-views, values and expectations of work and each other (Harrison, 2016 from International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2021)
Each organisation, culture / demographic is different, it’s very much about what engagement is going on in the organisation, utilising those varied experiences and skills to drive change and productivity. ‘Generation Z’ are looking for immersive experiences, more engagement and interactions with brands and employers. This generation could change jobs up to 10 times between the ages of 18 and 34 and often enjoy being based in the office.
The rise of ‘the solo dweller’ – living alone, and really benefitting from the social aspects of the office so what responsibility to employers and flex space operators have to provide the social fabric of engagement at work?
I’ll leave you with this quote…
“Although technologies like cloud, collaboration and connectivity have undoubtedly contributed to this transformation, physical spaces and culture change have struggled to keep up. With an invaluable opportunity to reset, rethink, and redesign our workplace strategies.” Dr Nicola Millard, Principal Innovation Partner at BT Digital Strategies.
The future of flex is bright but there’s still work to be done!