Opinion

The future of work truly is flexible

Dharam Mehta | Updated on February 24, 2021

Flexible workspaces are essential because they provide various working models for companies and provide employees with the ability to work out from multiple locations across cities

Almost a year into an unprecedented shift to work-from-home, people are finding more reasons to head back to work. A Deloitte study states that 94 per cent of respondents indicated they would benefit from work flexibility, with the maximum gains being less stress/improved mental health, and better integration of work and personal life.

With more employees and working professionals looking for companies that offer them greater flexibility, there is a need for workspaces to keep up with this demand.

According to JLL’s report titled ‘A 360⁰ view of India’s flexible workspaces’, in the first nine months of 2020, the Indian flex space market witnessed net absorption of more than 17 million sq.ft. The pace is expected to increase in the upcoming quarters with a broader recovery expected in 2021.

Health and safety will not only be a priority, but a necessity for people heading back to work, and flexible workspace providers are poised to meet all the requirements necessary to bring enterprises, start-ups and entrepreneurs-alike back to a controlled work environment. Some of the factors that lend to this rapid adoption and shift to flexible workspaces are:

Amenities are the name of the game: Executives expect to return to the office at a fast rate this year. According to the Remote Working Survey conducted by PwC, by July, 75 per cent of executives anticipate at least half of the office workforce will be back on-site. While the survey notes this shift, it is also quick to point out the need for hybrid work models.

Due to new regulations and norms regarding social distancing and reduced capacities, companies will shift to smaller teams and rostered work timings.

Flexible workspaces are essential because they provide various working models for companies of all sizes and provide employees with the ability to work out from multiple locations across cities. Additionally, organisations need to create an office culture that employees want to come back to, and flexible workspaces provide amenities including gyms, outdoor spaces, pantries, cleaning facilities and more that are attractive to a young and dynamic workforce.

Working close to home is essential: Work-life balance has become more critical than ever, and a considerable part of this is people realising how long their work commutes were before the work-from-home scenario. Work-near-home has become the next big thing, with people having a strong preference for working out of locations close to their home, to spend more time with their family and friends.

Flexible workspaces provide a solution here, as they allow people to work out of locations that are most convenient to them, thereby reducing their commute time and offering them the freedom to come to work when they choose.

Collaboration is key

Deloitte’s Back to Work Survey noted that 80 per cent of professionals agree that a traditional work setting — defined as regular attendance at an office or working normal business hours — is essential for advancing their career. We are currently in an era where a majority of the workforce is young, with the millennials comprising a large number of working professionals.

What young executives value more than anything is collaboration and a sense of community, which they can easily find at a flexible workspace. These spaces become a melting pot of culture, ideas, shared thoughts and lay the perfect ground for entrepreneurs and start-ups to find their “tribe”, so to say.

Enterprises are also seeing great success in flexible workspaces, as they can retain top talent due to this collaborative work environment. They can also find more talent in these spaces, as multiple professionals are working out of the same space.

Mental health at the forefront

Perhaps the most crucial aspect to consider when coming back to work is the toll 2020 has on employees' mental health. Regardless of age and background, it has been a challenge for everyone to adapt and overcome the multiple changes that last year came at us with, both personally and professionally.

Providing employees with strong support structures in the forms of small teams, buddy systems, and a sense of empathy will be more important than ever. An essential factor in this support system will be providing employees with a sense of stability, through a secure and calming work environment. Flexible workspaces allow for this and they let you scale up basis your company requirements.

Through community engagement, following safety protocols and offering multiple real estate solutions, these workspaces provide the most seamless transition back to work for companies of all sizes. The future of work truly is flexible.

The writer is Head of Business Operations, WeWork India

Published on February 24, 2021

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