The future of work is hybrid.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, over 70 percent of employees want flexible remote work options to continue, and widespread working from home practices have left office workers around the world thinking:
Is the commute worth it?
For some, this will depend on how compelling their workspace is. To entice workers back, the office must become a destination for collaborative work, while also reserving space for more focused independent work.
Creating engaging environments is what coworking operators do best, so the move to hybrid work can be seen as a huge opportunity for the sector.
Many freelancers and founders are missing the interaction that flexible workspaces facilitate. Increasingly, large employers are thinking outside the box and switching their office leases for flexible workspace agreements.
The workspace is becoming a destination for collaborative work.
Here are three prominent trends that are helping to shape the future of the commute.
The last year has been tough on the public transport industry.
For decades, it experienced steady growth as demand continued to rise. Then COVID-19 hit and public transport saw an unprecedented fall in passenger numbers.
Meanwhile, car journeys in city centres rose, partly due to the belief that travelling by car reduces the risk of infection.
Public transport’s demise is far from imminent, however.
In a bid to get people back on trains, companies and governments are coming up with ways to get commuters back on board.
In the UK, for instance, proposals designed to make train travel more attractive have been published by the Government in the biggest shake-up for the sector in decades.
Among other things, the proposals include:
From summer 2021 flexible season tickets will be available for passengers who commute part-time. It’ll particularly benefit those who travel to work two or three days a week.
More space will be made available on trains for passengers who cycle part of their commute. Also, joined-up ticketing will be improved for journeys that involve both trains and buses.
In the UK, one in five railway stations has step-free access to all platforms. The Government is planning an accessibility audit and strategy, in recognition that big changes are needed to improve the experience for passengers with disabilities.
According to the CBI, transport contributes to about a third of carbon emissions and 20% of distance travelled prior to the pandemic happened on commutes.
To ensure we stay on track to reach net zero by 2050, we need to avoid going back to the way things were and transform the way we commute.
As a flexible workspace operator, what can you do to encourage your employees and members to green-ify their commute to your building?
CBI’s new report, which it compiled in partnership with KPMG, could be a good place to start. Published in April 2021, Greener Miles explains how both businesses and government can get on board with net zero commuting.
Here’s a quick summary.
Take greater responsibility for the emissions created by your employees’ (and members’) commutes by factoring them into your net-zero strategies
Set out tangible steps to help employees (and members) make greener journeys to and from work, including by incentivising public transport use and use of shared and active travel options, such as walking or cycling
Make workplaces more conducive to low emissions travel, including accessibility to on-site changing facilities, EV charging, bike locks, and proximity to public transport.
The daily commute is being replaced by the 2 or 3-day per week commute.
An unprecedented number of people are moving away from city centres to suburban or rural environments. This transition is also having an impact on the commute and has the potential to spur economic growth in towns and smaller cities.
This is good news for local coworking operators.
A study by Coworker reveals that the majority of people who were working remotely for the first time during lockdowns would like to look into a coworking space in the near future.
Suburban coworking is well-suited to individuals looking for a “third space”. In other words, a workspace away from their home (but not too far from it), and one that isn’t their company’s city centre HQ. This ties in with the rise of the hub and spoke approach.
In commercial real estate terms, a company’s “hub” is its headquarters. This could be an office lease or a larger office (or managed floor) in a flexible workspace.
The spokes are a geographically dispersed network of smaller offices. These spokes are chosen strategically based on the business’ talent and client needs.
Lots of flexible workspaces and coworking spaces are perfect spokes for larger businesses, and also serve as headquarters for SMEs and startups.
Instant and HICKEY’s report, ‘The Rise of Suburbia’ makes for an interesting read – you’ll find it particularly useful if you’re considering setting up a workspace in the suburbs.
The report was compiled to help determine whether hub and spoke is viable as a strategy and whether the workspace market in the UK can support growth in suburban areas.
57% of employees want an office that is closer to their home
77% of employees say that a more conveniently located office is a must-have for their next role
UK businesses could save up to 23% on average by adopting a ‘rightsize’ approach
The average London employee could save £2,200 a year in commuting costs
But supply is limited in suburban and tertiary markets.
You might be surprised to hear that around 50% of people have actually missed commuting during Covid. For many of us, traveling to work can be therapeutic, providing us with time in our day to catch up on our favourite podcast or just sit back and relax.
Unsurprisingly, 73% of us miss socialising in person.
Spontaneous conversation is difficult when you’re working from home with only a pot plant for company. Also, as effective as virtual meetings may be, they’ll never be able to replicate the buzz of face-to-face interactions.
We can assume, then, that people will only be willing to commute if their workspace is able to facilitate their need for socialisation.
Fortunately, that's one of the things our sector excels at – and it’s ready and waiting to welcome back members old and new!
Subscribe to receive our latest content and news directly to your inbox
For our final Future of Work article, we take a look at the Human Experience and how this is driving all other trends we have covered in this series. Treating members as individuals is what coworking does best, but there is never a bad time to reassert your care and devotion to your members.
Very few people get into the coworking business just to make money quickly. It takes time to develop a coworking space into a profitable business, which is why many operators focus instead on being purpose-driven organisations. This week’s Future of Work article focuses on how to instill purpose-driven values into your space.
Increasingly, businesses in every sector are discovering the importance of upskilling, a great way to boost the skillset of your team. Coworking is not exempt from this as they are in the position to boost the skills of not only their staff but their members too!
With increasing scrutiny placed on businesses to employ proper measures to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce, it's vital to have a proper understanding of the terms diversity and inclusion and what they mean. This week's Future of Work article focuses on this vitally important issue, and what coworking spaces can do to make sure they are doing their part for this essential movement.
The way we all communicate has changed drastically over the past year, and as much as we all want to get back to normal, it seems likely that this kind of digital communication will be with us for some time yet. This week, we focus on how digital communication will impact the future of work for years to come.
It will come as no surprise that an increased focus on office hygiene will play a massive role in the Future of Work. Here we take a look at the broader hygiene trends as well as the measures being taken to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The third focus article in our Future of Work series takes a look into sustainability, and how workspaces can make changes to reduce their impact on the environment. We offer a number of different tactics that can be taken, from small changes to more wide-ranging ones.
The second focus article in our future of work series takes a deeper look at the trends in employee health and wellbeing. This is an area that has seen growing attention over the past few years, and this very much looks set to continue into the future.
The first individual article in our future of work series begins with this week’s deep dive into the future of flexible working. We take a look at the different forms flexible working can take, and how it can mean much more than working remotely.
With today marking one year since the first coronavirus lockdown began in the UK, we are reflecting on the workplace trends and changes brought on by 2020 and how these are continuing to shape the future of work throughout 2021 and beyond.