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. At Hubble, our philosophy is that every organisation will have their own unique workplace configuration—with employees splitting their time working across three main types of space: their company HQ, home, and on-demand workspaces. The exact configuration will vary from company to company, depending on a variety of factors at company and employee level.
To work out what your configuration looks like, the first step is to ask your team how they want to work. We’ve got some top tips on how to gather the data you need here.
Matching your needs with a viable solution
Once you’ve established what your team’s needs are, many businesses find themselves faced with another big challenge: matching said needs with a viable workplace solution.
For instance: perhaps you know that you want to have a more flexible working policy, and that the majority of your employees would like to work remotely a few days a week. But what does that actually mean for your workplace setup? Should you stick with your existing office space? Or downsize? De-centralise? Ditch it altogether?
What options are available to you?
And how can you make sure you’re spending the right amount of money, in the right place?
Fortunately, the market has responded quickly to the new world of work, introducing more flexible ways to use office space. To help you figure out which approach is most suitable for your business, we’ve collated them all in this comprehensive guide.
The definitive list of hybrid workplace solutions
- Opt for a smaller HQ (or HQs) that all employees have access to
- Take a membership with an office provider that allows multi-location access
- Take a full-time office, for your whole team
- Adapt your existing office for new uses
- Take an office part-time
- Give employees access to on-demand space
- Give employees a workspace allowance
- Go fully remote
- A combination of a number of the above
Opt for a smaller HQ (or HQs) that all employees have access to
If you’re looking to decrease your office footprint, but still want a physical HQ of some sort, then this might be a good option for you. Many workspace operators are allowing businesses to take a smaller private office that can hold a portion of their employees, but giving them extra access cards for their wider team (sometimes at no extra cost).
This means that companies can retain an office presence, but get much better value for their money—and all employees can access the workspace when they need to. In some cases, these access cards also allow use of other buildings (of the same brand) around in their portfolio—meaning your team can still work from an office environment if they choose, without having to travel to one office in particular.
Of course, with this setup, you may need to implement some form of internal process (e.g. a rota or hot desking system) to ensure the HQ is used fairly and doesn’t get overbooked by employees.
Take a membership with an office provider that allows multi-location access
In our Should we ditch the office? Survey, 79% of employees told us that one of the best things about working from home was the lack of commute. If your team feel the same, you may like to consider taking an office with a provider who allows business tenants to access any of the workspaces in their portfolio. This means that your team can work from whichever of their buildings is most convenient for them.
Some providers have sites around the UK; others all around the world. Ideal if you have a distributed workforce.
Take a full-time office, for your whole team
Of course, if a significant proportion of your team wants or needs to be in the office most/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. And you can still rent a full-team office and offer a flexible working policy if you want to—the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As the most established workplace strategy, this is the easiest option within the current office market, and also ensures full flexibility over changing preferences through the pandemic and beyond.
The three main types of office space you can choose from, starting with the most flexible, are:
- Serviced offices – plug-and-play workspace, where all business rates and bills are included in the monthly rent. Serviced office contracts tend to offer much more flexibility than traditional leases (with contracts lasting a few months rather than a few years).
- Managed offices – customisable office space that can be made bespoke to a company’s requirements, meaning that you can brand it and make it your own. With managed spaces, all costs from rent to fit out, are bundled into one single, monthly fee—with contracts usually starting from a 12-month minimum term.
- Leased offices – suitable for businesses looking for a longer-term occupancy. While initial setup costs may be higher, leased offices are usually more cost-effective in the long run, and give businesses the freedom to fit out the space to their exact specification.
You could also sublet an office from another company. This is normally a more cost-effective way of taking a traditional office space, but for a shorter term and on a flexible basis.
Adapt your existing office for new uses
If you have chosen to stay in your existing workspace, or are tied into a lease for the foreseeable future, you may consider adapting or diversifying the office space you already have.
You could redesign, reorganise, or repurpose your workspace to better support the kinds of interactions that cannot happen remotely. For instance: if, in the future, the primary purpose of your office will be to facilitate collaboration or host clients, is there anything you can change about your office setup to reflect this?
This may involve:
- increasing the amount of breakout or collaborative space available
- increasing the amount of meeting room space you have access to (either inside or outside your building), or
- sourcing on-demand workspace close to employees’ homes, so that team members don’t have to commute every single day.
Take an office part-time, sharing the week with another business
If you’re looking for a private office but don’t want to use and pay for it every day/week of the year, then an office timeshare might be right for you.
This setup is particularly suited to businesses looking to designate specific days for office vs remote working, as it allows businesses to access office space on a “part-time” basis—by sharing ownership, costs, and usage with one or more other companies. The companies agree on a schedule that suits them, and split the cost accordingly.
Give employees access to on-demand space, that they can book as and when they need it
If you’re looking to give your employees access to high-quality workspace, but don’t require them to be in your company HQ all of the time, then utilising on-demand workspaces is a great option.
One way to do this is to give your team access to local coworking spaces. And to make this as simple as possible, we’ve created the Hubble Pass.
The Hubble Pass allows businesses of all sizes to access hundreds of on-demand workspaces across the UK and selected international cities—from LA to Lisbon. With it, a company’s employees can access convenient workspace, with top-notch facilities (including super-fast WiFi, phone booths, and meeting rooms) whenever they need it.
We’re currently giving away a limited number of one-month free trials for the Hubble Pass. Every company that’s accepted will receive 4 free day passes for each of their employees, which they can use to access any of the hundreds of workspaces we’ve got signed up on the platform, individually or in groups. Find out more here.
Give employees a workspace allowance (e.g. hot desk membership to a space of their choice)
Another option for teams looking to de-centralise their office approach is to purchase hot desk memberships for employees who want them, using the money that would have otherwise been spent on the company’s primary office.
This is the approach that London-based eCommerce specialists NOVOS have taken. They told us: “We’ve allocated a budget to each team member, and set them up with a WeMembership, so they can book workspace/meeting rooms with credits via their WeWork login. We have a shared Notion Calendar where someone puts their name on the day they’ll be in—so far it’s worked well, and we’re able to control the use of the budget pretty effectively.”
Go fully remote
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 should strongly consider conducting a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Assessment for all employees to ensure that their home working setups are suitable for the long-term. We can make this process quick and easy for you with the HubbleHQ Home Working Assessment.
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.
A combination of a number of the above
Given that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the workplace puzzle, it’s likely that most businesses will adopt a combination of the above strategies.
For instance, some businesses may prefer to have an HQ where they can host clients, arrange company meetings and hold team socials, for example—but don’t want their team to have to commute a long way whenever they’d like to work from an office environment.
These teams may choose to have a small HQ, but also give their team access to on-demand coworking spaces closer to where they live.
Find the right workplace configuration for your team
With so much change in the world of work, it can be really difficult to know where to start when it comes to picking the right workplace strategy for your company.
Our expert advisors can help with the whole process, completely free of charge—from recommending the most cost-efficient strategy for your business, to finding you solutions that meet your exact requirements.