Cal Lee, global head of Workthere
The space of co-working office providers has been growing immensely over the last few years, with the size of the UK market tripling within less than a decade. While a handful of superstars are grabbing many of the headlines about the sector, the co-working office boom has actually produced a highly competitive market where many small to medium-sized specialist providers are constantly driven to rethink, reinvent and reshape the spaces they rent out.
What we can learn from the co-working office boom...
One thing this means is that, today, office spaces need to be shaped much more around the needs of employees and their employers to stay ahead of the curve. At the same time, office spaces have started to play an active role in employee well-being and even employee acquisition, with many job descriptions today naming specific office amenities as part of the benefits packages that are on offer. Those entrepreneurs who want to make sure their office spaces remain a valuable part of their talent strategy should use the latest trends in the co-working sector as a guiding factor. Chances are high that these trends will soon be the ‘new norm’ for offices and, by extension, for the expectations of current and future employees towards the places where they want to work.
The new mantra: bring home to work – rather than taking work home
Looking at the providers that are popping up, we can see that the trend for more flexible working in the age of the gig economy is driving modern workplaces to merge more and more elements of our private lives with our working lives.
This is taking many different shapes and formats. Moving away from corporate city centres to more residential areas is one example. Especially in times of high house prices and long commutes, office locations become an important factor in the lives of employees. Some office providers have even gone as far as establishing office locations specifically in commuter towns, so that employees save hours of their lives every day and massively improve their work-life balance.
Another trend is the integration of play areas for children, child care services and full-blown crèche facilities to make sure parents are never stuck between a rock and a hard place if the babysitter cancels, their children are sick or they simply have to stay an hour longer because they are on a deadline for a project. In fact, the trend has even gone as far as some office providers positioning themselves as ‘nurseries with integrated work spaces’, which highlights the new priorities being set by the market they serve.
Those who don’t want to go as far as relocating their offices or becoming a nursery can use other simple ways of making the workspace homelier. An effective way is to take the ‘corporate sterility’ away by hosting inspiring and slightly challenging artwork. There are examples of office spaces offering up their reception areas as exhibition spaces for local artists. There are also specialist subscription services which will fit offices with rotating pieces of art to make sure workspaces never become dull.
Enabling a healthy lifestyle
While workspaces are becoming more and more individualised, we also see them being used to nudge employees towards certain lifestyles. The rather niche perk of on-site gyms has been around for quite a few years already, but there are also some more indirect (and easier to implement) techniques that are catching on, on a large scale.
Some co-working spaces even take this trend so far as to offering bike ramps and rooftop running tracks, bike storage spaces and proper shower facilities as an effective way to encouraging bike commutes.
The office kitchen as a focus of office life
The office kitchen space is another very important part of the lifestyle puzzle that is experiencing something like a small revolution at the moment. Gone are the days where the office kitchen was a tick box exercise in installing a microwave, fridge, kettle and sink. Now, kitchen spaces are becoming sophisticated areas, that don’t only allow for preparing something healthier than a microwave curry, but they are actually set up in a way that inspires creativity and social interaction, making lunch breaks more than a 10-minute food binge in front of computers.
Whatever techniques entrepreneurs choose to employ to get the most out of their workspace, they should follow the lead of the co-working office revolution as it is built around the future needs, demands and wishes of the modern workforce.
Workthere are finders of flexible office space to help your business grow.
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