Countless studies make it clear that offices and how they are used are going to change drastically. Working at home and ‘experience’ offices are the new kids on the block.
On top of that, issues around the coronavirus mean that we can no longer think in terms of square metres in the market for office spaces: 1.5 metres is the new standard. And this is where HR managers and real estate brokers overlap: an opportunity in this changing market.
According to a study from 2017, conducted by the US jobs site Flex jobs, being able to work from home is far and away the most-requested job benefit at 81% of those surveyed. Amazon, Facebook and Apple were already on board, and the pandemic has only pushed that trend forward.
Productivity expert Barnaby Lashbrooke sees many advantages in working at home. If aligned with the needs of each employee, it can even boost productivity. That was already apparent from an internal study by the Chinese travel website Ctrip done in 2014. Employees who worked at home had nearly 15% more sales calls than their colleagues in the office.
We also see many advantages for companies in Flanders and Brussels. Without long commutes and traffic jams, you start your day fresh and ready to go. You choose your own uniform. And much more.
But only working at home is not ideal. A survey has shown that 90% of people want to work at home one to three days each week. And there are also significant disadvantages. It is much more difficult to convey emotions over a screen. You lack essential human contact and informal chats in passing. And corporate culture does not get transmitted in the same way via video chat.
The best formula is also an individually tailored combination, personalized ‘flex work’. Finding a good balance between working at home and in the office is the ‘key’ to success.
In 2018, 0.8% of all the spaces in Brussels were intended for flex work. In Amsterdam and Paris, that was already more than 6% at the time. Brussels has begun to catch up. As an employer, you can respond with your commercial space to this global trend by investing in the quality of company premises.
‘Work enjoyment’ is the central theme of the ‘experience’ office
Fewer offices, less travel expense. Working at home increases the amount to be invested by the employer, and that amount must optimally be spent on comfort and services. Capacity yields to quality.
An inspiring workplace is close to public transportation and preferably offers a bit of natural environment. Studies show that most employees aim to live a healthier lifestyle. The employer benefits from investing in a healthy workspace. If the employer does that in the right way, then sick leave decreases and the growing flood of burn-outs is dammed. A healthy office that exudes wellbeing is a win-win.
The ability to ‘catch a bit of sun’ and a great fitness studio in the same building fit perfectly in this new picture. A cosy bistro, or even spending an hour taking cooking lessons from a chef, increases engagement. A coffee corner with a great barista makes the coffee break just a bit better. Every employer can come up with their own thing. Options aplenty in Belgium. A landscape office is not bigger, but it is more spacious. Flex work does the trick here. The combination with separate office and enclosed informal meeting rooms in a complex with full services is the basis for an experience office, a place where ‘work enjoyment’ is cultivated.
Viewing the office through rose-coloured VR goggles.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are finally ‘real’. We cannot get around it; the
applications are, at the very least, handy. VR goggles make it possible, for example, to participate in a ‘live’ meeting in a virtual conference room or to socialize virtually with colleagues. You do that using an ‘avatar’, the virtual version of yourself.
A company has various options for using the freed-up space, creating added value in the way it sees fit. Augmented reality, or supplemented reality, makes it possible to add a screen in a real space, such as an office, without having to create extra space for it. More room without additional space.
Both ‘realities’ are hot and happening in the US. Implementation in our Belgian offices is a matter of time.