It’s common knowledge that more favourable views towards remote working are causing a huge shift in the way that companies think about their office space. Covid has proven that working from home doesn’t have to come at the expense of productivity, and businesses of all sizes are now exploring what this means for their future working practices.
Whilst this is revolutionary for employees, whose needs are now front-of-mind in this new, employee-driven era of working, it can be confusing for business leaders and ops teams trying to work out what to do about their workspace strategy.
“One desk per employee” is no longer the only way of taking office space
With more employees keen to work remotely more regularly, what’s clear is that the traditional, “one desk per employee” approach is no longer the best option for all businesses—nor indeed will it always be the most cost-efficient. But there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another, and finding the best option for yours will require asking your employees how they want to work.
As a benchmark, we asked 1,000+ employees how often they’d like to work remotely in the future, and calculated that the average company may actually only need office space to fit 34% of their team at any one time. But this figure can vary depending on a whole variety of factors, such as company size, team culture, and industry.
The four main ways of taking office space
Once you’ve established your team’s preferences, you can then start putting a plan in place. To make things simpler, below we’ve listed the four primary ways of approaching office space in the current climate: by 1) renting full-team office space, 2) finding “hybrid”, part-time or part-team space, 3) using space on-demand, or 4) going fully-remote.
1. Full-team office space:
If the majority of your team want to be in the office most or every day of the week, or your business relies on having a physical team presence, then taking space equivalent to one desk per person may still be the best approach for you.
As the most established strategy, this is the easiest option within the current office market, and also ensures full flexibility over changing preferences and evolving conditions through the pandemic.
2. “Hybrid”, part-time or part-team space
If you’re looking to adopt a more flexible remote working policy, but still want a physical office of some sort, then you could take a hybrid approach. This would involve having an HQ which can hold a portion of your team, with rotas and pre-agreed use of space across the company.
This could be done by either having the full team in the office a few days a week, or by taking full-time (but smaller) office space with different team members able to use it on different days.
It’s worth bearing in mind that at least 71% of employees believe that their company should still have an office of some sort, so even if your team is pro-remote, this is likely to be the best option for most businesses.
As relatively new concepts, part-time/part-team spaces are more complicated options within the current office market. But they are possible. These are two of the most popular offerings being offered by workspace providers at the moment:
Office timesharing allows businesses to take an office on a “part-time” basis—by sharing ownership, costs, and usage with other companies.
The companies share the usage of the office on a schedule that suits them and split the cost accordingly—ideal if you’re looking for a private office but don’t want to use and pay for it every day/week of the year.
Smaller office with extra access cards:
Many workspace operators are making it possible for businesses to take smaller private offices, but have extra access cards for their wider team.
This means that companies can retain an office presence but get much better value for their money—and all employees can access the workspace as and when they need to.
In some cases, these access cards also allow use of other buildings (of the same brand) around London—meaning your team can still work from an office environment if they choose, without having to travel to the city centre to one office in particular.
3. On-demand space:
This option is best if your employees are keen to work remotely most of the time, but you know that, as a business, you will sometimes need access to physical environments such as meeting rooms, event spaces, or external workspace.
One way to do this is for your team to be fully-remote as default, but have access to a centralised HQ or coworking passes to local spaces.
Alternatively, you could enable your team to book on-demand meeting rooms, event spaces, and hot desks as and when they need them.
For some businesses, Covid will have been the catalyst to join the likes of Buffer, Basecamp and GitLab and go fully-remote.
Doing so is ostensibly the cheapest option, given that you have zero fixed office costs. However, this approach needs careful planning and investment—with 75% of employees citing the lack of social interaction as the worst thing about WFH, it’s worth doing your research before taking the leap.
Re-evaluating processes, tools, and benefits will need to be top of mind to ensure that employees remain valued and engaged with the company, and you’ll also need to keep an eye on your hiring ability; with such a high proportion of the working population feeling that the company they work for should have an office of some sort, a fully-remote policy may limit your talent pool.
Nevertheless, as pioneers of the remote revolution have shown, having a geographically-distributed team can be hugely successful when done right. To get you on your way, check out this comprehensive list of provisions that employees feel would significantly improve their working from home experience, from ergonomic furniture to coffee subscriptions.
We understand that these are confusing times. The commercial real estate market is changing quickly, but we’re in frequent contact with all of London’s office landlords to ensure that we can always find the best solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes.