Recently I participated on a panel discussion for RICS around workplace changes and challenges as New Zealand recovers from Covid, with a particular focus on co-working spaces and what changing preference for flexible working models mean for future demand.
The questions were thought provoking and prompted some heated debate among the team while I was preparing my answers. Discussion around the idea of the workplace being dead created some seriously strong reactions among the team.
One thing we all agreed on is that the idea of work is so much more than the job you do, and where, and how you work, plays an important part of that.
Given the relevancy of these questions to people beyond RCIS members (read: anyone that’s worked in an office) I thought I would share the questions and my thoughts.
Do you see a move to working from home as a challenge to the flexible workspace model or as being complimentary to it?
In short – complimentary. As a shared space provider, Generator has always seen and expected flexible working from our members and our varied suite of products supports this. Working from home is part of that, but we don’t see a long-term shift to businesses working from home permanently as a threat, or even the way many businesses will go.
Any change to ways of working needs to be done to provide better outcomes for the business and people in the business - improve culture, productivity and so on - not just a kneejerk to Covid-19.
What the Covid-19 lockdown helped to do was fast track flexible ways of working for businesses and industries that hadn’t really got their head, or systems around it yet.
For the most part, staff desire flexibility and in some senses the lockdown has given more power to workers to demand flexible working arrangements given the productivity of many businesses didn’t take a hit.
We are seeing businesses looking to reduce overheads post-Covid. A shift to working from home is one (extreme) way of doing it, but what we are seeing lots of is businesses looking to a hybrid way of working. This means you may have a team of 35 but only have 20 desks as there is a roster system of who is in and who is out of the office. This way of working is incredibly complimentary to the shared space model – as it means a business can consolidate space without losing any amenity.
Flexible workspace has been in expansion mode over recent years, do you see this trend accelerating with companies increasing their use of flexi space to supplement a smaller permanent HQ?
Totally! As mentioned above, shared space is a great way for businesses to downsize their HQ without amenities or location being compromised.
Over recent years, shared office space has really grown up. There are some of the old connotations of co-working being like the high school common room but what we offer at Generator attracts a huge cross-section of the New Zealand economy - from corporates, global enterprise clients to boutique consulting firms – and the mix is expanding all the time. The last three years has seen the concept of shared space or coworking really mature into a professional front for a business without all the costs associated of setting up an office.
We like to think that shared workspaces are for savvy businesses, who understand the value that a provider like Generator can add to their business. If you’re paying for an office it needs to be more than just bricks and mortar, it needs to work for you.