Now that companies aren’t expecting staff to be in the office full time, owners of traditional office space need tools and assets that empower them to respond to fluctuating demand.
Managing traditional commercial office space was a more predictable process when everybody was using it from 9am-5pm, five days per week. When business tenants were in the office full time, landlords had a clear picture of what their fixed costs would be, and when technical and operational services should be on standby to support tenants throughout their working day.
But the accelerated post-pandemic shift towards a hybrid working model has made this more complex. Instead of a steady stream of employees using commercial office space at the same time, there’s an ebb and flow of activity, which means landlords need to plan for the provision of services and resources for their business tenants.
Boosting staff productivity
Hybrid working – where employees split their time between working from a flexible office space in their local area, their company’s headquarters, and working from home – is a response to the collective realisation that having a choice of work location is beneficial to people’s productivity and wellbeing. Employees of the digital workforce have appreciated saving the time, energy and money of commuting to a city-centre office every day and, according to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, 85% of those who worked remotely during the pandemic would prefer to work hybrid from now on, rather than returning to the office full time.
Recognising the boost in staff productivity, the benefits for their team’s mental health and the cost efficiencies of hybrid working, businesses are evolving their workspace strategies and writing them into company policy.
This shift to hybrid working patterns makes it more difficult for landlords leasing traditional office spaces to know for certain how many people will be occupying their properties on any given day. It also means landlords could be deploying services they don’t need – such as the daily clean of a workspace that’s been left unused for four days, or a fixed energy tariff based on 100 people for a 40-hour working week (when that hasn’t been the case since March 2020…).
A data-driven approach
As office facilities are being used in a more on-demand fashion, solutions are needed that help landlords understand and respond to demand as and when it happens. To monitor the occupancy levels of commercial property as the hybrid working movement gains momentum, landlords are turning to a more data-driven approach – and implementing technology that tracks daily office usage in real time. Workplace analytics platforms such as VergeSense and Infogrid are examples of this.
These solutions are not only able to monitor office activity and alert landlords when action is required – such as maintenance or a response to a health and safety incident – but they also aggregate data to help paint a more relevant picture of how their properties are being used by corporate tenants. This can help inform future decisions about adapting or enhancing facilities to attract future tenants seeking a hybrid set-up – for example, dedicating more open spaces for coworking and collaboration (on the days when team members are using the office, they most likely want to make the most of the chance to collaborate in person).
Firms are seeking flexibility
As the world of hybrid working takes shape, landlords may consider exploring the benefits of flexible office space. Unlike traditional office space, the flexible workspace sector has always been focused on measuring and adapting to meet constantly changing demand. For example, with IWG locations, customers can scale up or down the amount of space they occupy directly in line with their current needs.
It’s this kind of flexibility that firms are seeking in today’s climate. Similarly, landlords that partner with IWG benefit from a proven track record, strong ROI and the benefit of the company’s 30 years of expertise in operating profitable flexspace locations. Working with IWG means landlords get access to in-depth knowledge gleaned from managing the ‘ebb and flow’ of customers and the peace of mind that they can leave day-to-day workspace admin to IWG’s dedicated team.
Landlords re-evaluating their property portfolios in the coming months and beyond would be wise to ensure they are transitioning from their pre-pandemic set-ups towards offering facilities and services that truly reflect how people are working today.
As demand for flexspace closer to employees’ homes rockets under the roll-out of hybrid working, there are fresh opportunities to invest in this more streamlined, cost-efficient and future-facing commercial real estate sector, and to enjoy its dynamism and growth as it continues to flourish.
Find out more about partnering with IWG to manage flexible office space locations under a hybrid working model.