More than 80% of businesses have changed their office space needs to accommodate a flexible working approach, which includes more than half of businesses opening offices or working spaces outside of city centres, according to a new survey from IWG.
The survey of 500 businesses found that 54% of organisations now have offices or co-working spaces outside of main city centres while 38% have second locations in commuter towns as businesses attempt to accommodate staff who desire more flexible working.
Employers are said to face challenges regarding the new flexible approach and the statistics support this claim as businesses attempt to accommodate the needs of staff, while organisations such as HSBC have said they would move their global headquarters away from Canary Wharf to smaller office after more than two decades.
Assessments on current productivity when compared to pre-pandemic levels show no clear sign of change and the research found that 73% of businesses have been able to cut their office space costs as a result of reduced central city office space needs while 36% say they are paying less in expenses for staff travel.
“Working models have changed in recent years due to the pandemic. Businesses should focus on adapting to new working models to accommodate the needs and wants of their workers and improve employee experience, in order to stay competitive," says Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe.
"The emergence of hybrid working as a long-term working model has begun to reduced reliance on city centres. It's good to see some businesses now relocating outside of city centres, which saves money and brings further benefits to employees and communities in addition," he says.
"Locating outside of traditional busy, overcrowded cities can help distribute economic wealth more effectively. Opportunities can be brought to more rural areas, rather than the usual drain of talent seen with workers moving away to where the opportunities exist in cities," Iyengar says.
"Quality of life is improved for employees, who can be nearer their families, enjoy a more affordable lifestyle and enjoy more space and less crowding in their surrounding areas."
Iyengar says businesses need to consider several factors carefully when developing effective hybrid or remote working models.
Cost, employee experience, company culture, communication and productivity all play a key part.
"Technology plays a crucial role in any remote work as employers should look to create a seamless working experience for their employees whether they are home or office based, and wherever they may be located," he says.
"Robust and unified systems incorporating a variety of ways to communicate and collaborate make a huge difference, as well as having the ability to access real-time data to make informed business decisions. Ensuring employees are able to deliver just as effectively in their roles whether they are in the office or working remotely, not only helps with staff motivation but it boosts productivity, ultimately enabling a business to drive success.“
Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG, says it is clear that the old ways of working are long gone.
"Businesses are realising that not only does hybrid working make sense for their bottom lines, it also benefits their workforces,” he says.
“It’s encouraging to see that businesses are translating their hybrid working savings into real benefits for employees. Not only does this help in the immediate term, with improved productivity and wellbeing, but it will also help them retain and recruit the best talent.”