As Australians begin returning to the workplace, many might be wondering what the future of shared office spaces, and “business as usual”, will look like.
The traditional working set-up as we’ve known it has undergone a big shift during the recent pandemic, as workers and managers adapted to flexible and remote working.
Work-life balance, commute times and the rising cost of living means that working closer to home has long been a priority for many employees.
Not everybody’s home is going to be an appropriate work environment, and many employees crave the social and community aspects of the workplace, so blending of the two will be essential.
For many employers, single headquarters with high densities in an open plan environment no longer seems like the best idea post COVID-19, and many will need to re-think their strategies to cater for what I call a “distributed workforce” model. This means providing multiple working environments for employees, for example a company HQ, home and a third space.
What will flexible workspaces look like going forward?
I predict that we will see a new era where the “distributed working” model becomes increasingly viable for employers, as employees seek greater flexibility built into their working weeks. The importance of having a place for businesses and their teams to connect, learn and innovate will not go away, but providing a flexible offering, akin to the culture of professional coworking spaces, which are agile and adaptable, could become a more feasible option to meet this demand.
As well as catering for greater employee flexibility, businesses will need to implement changes quickly across their operations and spaces, to provide stability, reassurance, and protection to their members and staff. It’s crucial that companies act fast to adapt their standards and guidelines across the board, in line with recent government announcements.
At Hub Australia, we have been busy transforming our spaces nationally, to help every one of our members return to work as quickly and safely as possible, as the day-to-day impact of COVID-19 lessens. Some of the things we’re doing include working closely with members and businesses to create their own return-to-work solutions, creating new flexible agreements with members, and providing virtual memberships, that include digital tools such as video conferencing and access to our member-exclusive Slack channel.
Operators will also need to band together to ensure a healthy and safe return to work is implemented across the industry. At Hub Australia, we’re working as part the Workplace Operator Readiness Council (WORC), a global initiative, to share, coordinate, and develop information to ensure advancements towards a safe and healthy office. Collaboration in a post COVID-19 world will be paramount to ensure operators align on best practice.
As we welcome the return to the workspace, high visibility hygiene will be absolutely key for commercial operators. Increased-frequency cleaning, designated signage to assist with social distancing, and optimising space in line with capacity guidelines will all be crucial. The way we work is undergoing a big transformation, and it’s an exciting time for flexible workspace operators.
Brad Krauskopf is the CEO and Founder of Hub Australia.