The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly continue to be felt for several months to come, as we all get used to new measures such as social distancing, only going out when essential and not not being able to see friends and family.

Nevertheless, one of the most global changes in the situation has arguably been the way we work and the places where we work. For the majority of us who do not fall into the category of worker occupying key positions, working from home took some time to adapt, with many kitchen tables, sofas and even garden sheds being used for replace the good old office.

With many companies now looking to assess what our return to the office might look like once normal life begins to pick up, integrating working from home into the work week will become a longer-term topic of discussion. As a result, an immediate consideration is the type of space businesses will need.

The hub and spoke approach to offices is one model that could become more popular. This involves having a main office (the “hub”) and many small subsidiaries (the “spokes”), which are often closer to the employees’ homes. In the post COVID-19 transition period, this model would make a lot of sense: it would reduce the need for workers to use public transport and it would also provide an efficient working environment. We expect that the increased adoption of this model will increase the demand for flexible suburban offices in the short term, and in the long term as well, as part of the workers will likely have the ability and desire to make these working arrangements permanent. .

One question that comes to mind is where exactly these new flexible suburban offices will be located. One of the possibilities could be to create flexible offices and work collaboratively to revitalize the main street, occupying vacant business units. Creating a space where local people can come to work, as well as access to shops or other amenities could be very attractive both in the short term, as people avoid public transport and commuting. towards city centers, but also in the longer term, since we are moving to a more flexible and local work culture.

Benefits for employees

Flexible desks provide a pleasant and seamless office experience, with an IT infrastructure and internet connection already in place, good ergonomic chairs and desks, and of course coffee to replace what’s available at home. .. In addition, they provide a level of social interaction that many people lack when working from home; even if you can’t see all of your coworkers, the socializing element is still important.

For those who live miles from the city center and commute to corporate headquarters every day, this could be a solution that would reduce the hours spent on a train or car. Even before the pandemic, the demand for flexible offices in rural areas exceeded supply, our “What Coworkers Want” report shows that only 8% of respondents work in flexible offices in rural areas, but 17% of them indicated that it was their preferred place of work. In addition, having more people working locally would also have environmental benefits.

Benefits for employers

While this idea can not only fit into a company’s ESG strategy, it can also help reduce a company’s cost base. The use of flexible desks could enable more efficient use of workspace by allowing workers to use it as and when they need it, which would help reduce overhead costs while also acting as a means of stimulating local economies and local job creation. Additionally, by giving employees control over their place and working environment, it is likely to result in a happier and more loyal workforce.

The current pandemic will be a catalyst for people and businesses to reassess current practices in every way, and the way we work will be a big factor. Flexible office space is an option for businesses that are reluctant to commit to a long-term lease. The sector is also well positioned to play a pivotal role as office occupants look to the flexible office market to diversify and strengthen the resilience of their occupancy portfolio.