A modern approach to traditional workspaces in a post-pandemic world

To establish oneself as the employer of the future, firms need to focus on employee needs and holistic well-being.

The main goal of business operations is to ensure that employees can perform their required functions within the organisation.

The last few years have brought many challenges to the business community, from dealing with a global pandemic to geopolitical unrest and constant volatility in the global financial markets. This has undoubtedly brought a shift in the collective corporate mindset regarding how we work collaboratively, how vital the right kind of office space is to our productivity, and how an office is no longer simply defined by four walls. Companies that embrace adaptability, sustainability, and an agile philosophy, will be more likely survive and thrive over the years. This brings us to the extremely crucial debate on the future of workspaces.

The commercial real estate market has witnessed a sharp rise in demand for flexible workspaces. A recent CII-Anarock ‘Workplaces of the Future’ report predicts that the market size of flexible working spaces would double in the next 5 years at a CAGR of 15 percent. This shift in consumption from traditional office spaces is a consequence of companies seeking to recoup and optimize capital by making business operations more cost effective, particularly those tied to high-ticket items, such as commercial real estate.

With India’s rise as third-largest start-up hub in the world, in line with the growing entrepreneurial spirit, the market for new-age flexible workspaces is bullish. Satellite offices for project-based teams, hot desking options for highly mobile employees, diversified locations, hub-and-spoke model are some of the new prominent strategies. Adopting these solutions has several advantages, such as reduced commute times and mitigate risk. It also provides the possibility for employers to become location agnostic while pursuing the right talent for the job, potentially reducing the topological divide in India by hiring from multiple locations.

While some companies have begun to reap the rewards, the future of work will have to involve policies that encourage employees to embrace adaptability, while simultaneously protecting and supporting their work, to ensure business continuity. The need to strike a balance between flexibility of space and standardization of quality has become more pronounced over the last two years. Understanding the concerns, challenges, and fundamental needs of the workforce are what will ensure a successful transition to the newfound working models.

So, what should be the key factors to consider while aligning approach to workspaces in the post-pandemic world? Below are a few strategies that will ensure a modern workplace for organisations and their employees that will help them adapt to the current scenario.

A)  Assurance of Business Continuity: Organisation culture has a proven influence on business performance, employee productivity, revenue growth, creativity, and employee retention. Workplaces impact people’s well-being and ensure that employers are engaged, passionate to achieve organisational goals and vision. With the occurrence of the pandemic and several disruptions in the global market and geopolitics, supply chain disruption has been everyone’s focal point. People faced challenges especially in dealing with their work life balance. Organisations were focussed only on survival. Fast forward post pandemic organisations have started planning and building long term-goals and the vision to achieve higher growth and ensure business continuity. Adopting flexible workspace strategies aids organisations in ensuring business continuity during volatile market situations and implementing organisational goals with the workforce.

B) Agility for Stability: Constant challenges in the global financial market and geopolitical unrest causes instability in business operations, driving business to have built-in agility across all strategies. Flexibility in organisational strategies across functions ensures that business would still be stable and running irrespective of disruptions. Organisations have endured the challenges of the economy, experimenting with different permutations and combinations of working from home to hybrid working. By taking on a flexible coworking space, businesses can future proof their operations and instil a sense of stability in logistics, productivity, and organisational culture for the workforce. 

C) Employee wellbeing: The main goal of business operations is to ensure that employees can perform their required functions within the organisation. While most businesses like Pharma, IT, ITes have experimented through various work model philosophies. There has been a lot back and forth, employees have gone through a lot of physical and mental instability. It is very crucial to understand that when an employee is content in the work that is being functioned there is assurance for business to grow and become successful. Opting for flexible coworking space could work as a one-stop solution to all employee problems. The commute time is also reduced with having multiple touch points in the city and mitigate risk. The current options of coworking flexible workspaces have many amenities, such as a creche for new parents, changing room for mothers, facilities for fitness lovers as well as game rooms for those much-needed breakout sessions. This allows employees to start drawing lines between professional time and personal time which helps in smooth transition from remote working to hybrid working.

D) Manage expectations: Greater flexibility has become critical as we gradually return to offices. Allowing employees time to return to offices and re-acclimate to the social setting of an office is critical to manage company operations smoothly without creating a stressful environment for employees. Balancing work and personal life have resurfaced as an important aspect of people’s lives in a post-pandemic world, and we will need to keep that in mind as we bring employees back to offices to create that divide for them while maintaining productivity. One of the most important lessons we have learned is the importance of upskilling, building capabilities, and creating a growth path for every individual in the company. 

To establish oneself as the employer of the future, firms need to focus on employee needs and holistic well-being. The organizations must revamp themselves to create a suitable environment for their employees to work. The pandemic has completely changed the way a business operates, and now modern workspaces should be able to meet the end-to-end needs of the employee and the business.

(By Manish Khedia, Regional Managing Director, South India, The Executive Centre)

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