The local workplace: why a network of flexible workspaces is the future for employers

The local workplace: why a network of flexible workspaces is the future for employers

Hub-and-spoke working is on the rise, with big businesses, employees and governments already embracing the shift. Here’s how it could fit into your company’s future.

In the lexicon of the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps the phrase that will survive beyond ‘social distancing’ is ‘hub-and-spoke’. The trend for this model of working – where employees split their time between ‘spoke’ locations close to home and the company HQ, or ‘hub’ – has been rapidly accelerated in the past year. Major corporates such as NTT, Standard Chartered and EY have recently committed to it via ground-breaking partnerships with IWG.

Working from home served its purpose during lockdown but, with many people eager to embrace a change of scene as restrictions ease, smaller, local offices will form the backbone of many companies’ strategies going forward.

Retaining and attracting talent

The benefits of the hub-and-spoke approach for employees are self-evident: a shorter commute means a better work-life balance, with no loss of productivity. Addressing a reluctance to travel is also more important than ever for employers, as many workers feel unready to head back into city centres for health and safety reasons.

However, the arguments for investing in local offices go beyond keeping staff happy. “By giving employees the option to work closer to home, rather than at home, satellite offices can prevent the pitfalls of remote working (such as isolation, poor collaboration and makeshift desk set-ups), but also mirror some of its benefits, such as less time spent commuting,” according to a recent article by Knight Frank. The estate agent found that half of businesses it surveyed are considering a ‘closer to home’ office plan. 

A locally based office, close to where people live, gives employees the opportunity to work at a well-equipped workstation with support on hand. It also frees them from domestic distractions – especially important for those with busy households. As an employer with a local office network, you can be assured that everyone in your team has access to reliable broadband and is working in a secure, professional environment.

Creating a network of offices opens up other opportunities, too. For example, it can give employers access to a wider pool of talent. “An exceptional candidate based outside of London… might be put off by losing three hours of their day to a commute,” the Knight Franks survey points out. “But if your hub-and-spoke model meant that they only had to travel into London once a week… they’re far more likely to consider the role.”

In tandem with the benefits of staying local for much of the time, regular trips to company hubs can help foster the collaboration and culture that are so vital to all organisations. “The office HQ will become a place to collaborate, to celebrate, to meet your colleagues and to go out for a drink afterwards,” says IWG CEO Mark Dixon. “It will become a social place.” 

Knowledge migration

In the US, notes PwC, “The pandemic is accelerating an outward migration of knowledge workers from New York and California to less expensive locales. Raleigh, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, the top real estate markets at the start of 2021, are among the boomtowns attracting more than their share of young workers. Several recent high-profile corporate relocation announcements suggest that some employers are inclined to follow this migration.”

Buying or leasing expensive real estate in locations that have become popular with workers isn’t the only option for firms, of course. Flexible workspaces offer a way for them to provide employees with professional, distraction-free environments to work from without the need for such long-term, costly commitment. 

Improved agility

Investing in offices around the country – or indeed the globe – is not financially viable for most businesses. Nor does it seem prudent at a time of economic uncertainty. This is where flexspace solutions come into their own: they allow access to high-quality coworking centres that can be used ad hoc, removing the need for commitment to long leases on commercial property.

IWG’s partnership with Avaya is a great example of how this synergy can benefit businesses. The cloud communications company’s new HQ is set within Spaces Ambassador House in Zurich, but its employees can base themselves at other centres depending on their needs. “They embrace the freedom to choose where they can work most productively,” says Ourania Odermatt, Managing Director of Avaya Switzerland and Austria. “For team collaboration, it might be the HQ at Spaces, for client meetings it might be a nearby IWG space.”

“IWG offers the flexibility we were looking for,” Odermatt continues. “We deliver the infrastructure, communication and collaboration tools needed for working from anywhere. IWG delivers the flexible workspace – it’s the perfect match for the future.”

The 15-Minute City

The move towards operating a local office network also dovetails perfectly with the concept of the 15-Minute City – an idea that’s increasingly important to governments across the globe. Already informing policy in locations as diverse as Wales, Paris and Seattle, the 15-Minute City is based on the premise that people should be able to live, work and access amenities without needing to travel for more than 15 minutes on foot or by bike.

According to IWG CEO Mark Dixon, this is excellent news for local communities and the people who live in them. “Just when local cities and towns seemed to be dying, Covid-19 may have come along and saved them,” he says. 

“Why should companies go to the expense of providing prestige office accommodation in city centres, when their people have proved in recent months to be just as effective and productive elsewhere? Very soon, the concept of the long work commute will be completely alien.”

IWG has been helping businesses like yours with corporate flexspace solutions for the last 30 years. Find out how we can support you today.