With the growing demand for office space in all the major cities across the UK, there is bound to be an increase in the amount of businesses taking advantage of the ‘flexible workspace’. The UK is saturated with start-ups needing a 'base' and to meet this demand, there is more opportunity for ‘pay-as-you-use’ pricing models for office space, as well as hot-desking and portable workstations. The benefits of flexible workspaces and flexible working hours have been promoted massively everywhere you look – but how do you ensure this is managed properly and results in a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce?
Encourage employee communication
If you are considering offering the option of remote working to your staff, if you haven’t already, then there needs to be a channel of communication maintained. There has been research to show how being in the office less can lead to less chance of promotion or recognition, so ensuring that your employees have the chance to be with the team sometimes is important. You will still obviously need a central office to base your business from, so maybe have one day a week to get all your employees working in the same place. Alternatively, you could make use of collaborative workspaces, gathering your staff in a public area during times where your team will benefit from being in the same physical place.
Value your internal resources
With more and more communication being done over telephone, email and video chatting, making use of your internal services such as HR will become more valuable and in-demand. This is what will separate you from your competition, and feel more important to your staff when they need any of these services. Make sure you don’t neglect to retain and build on these internal workforces who will become an integral part of the support system offered to your remote workers.
Take advantage of the benefits
Whilst it’s easy to focus on concerns you may have about staff being distracted at home, think of all the good things and communicate these benefits to your employees. For example, there will be more time to focus on health and wellbeing with flexible working, as you can fit exercise and other personal interests in around work much easier. By recognising these benefits yourself you will feel more comfortable with them, and by broadcasting them to your employees, everyone will go into this new routine with a positive frame of mind.
Change your office space
For those choosing not to work remotely or visiting the office very regularly, you should be considering how you can improve your office to accommodate a flexible workspace. You could even move your office into a 'semi-permanent' base if you don't need an office every day. This is worked on a 'pay as you use' pricing model for serviced offices, reducing your overheads to ensure you maintain a sustainable and profitable business. You will still be provided with internet, electricity and any other necessary facilities your own office currently has. A flexible workspace should also include a 'break-out' area where employees can chill out, rest, eat or hold informal meetings with colleagues. With remote workers coming in and out the office, you could always sort a ‘hot desking’ arrangement where the headcount outnumbers the amount of desks, reducing costs.
In a modern flexible working environment, collaboration is essential. Not only must you collaborate with your staff, and your staff with one another to maintain a great culture within your workplace, but also your internal resources must collaborate with external services and facilities managers. This way you can find the most cost-effective and productive solution to suit you whilst maintaining a sustainable and profitable business model. It's important not to forget about your company culture when transitioning to a flexible workspace. In fact, it's probably even more important now to ensure that your team stay connected.
Have the right technology
With you seeing your employees and colleagues less face-to-face, you’ll need the right technology to video conference and communicate regularly. Also, you’ll need to make sure you have the resources and facilities to support your workers’ technical needs when working remotely – i.e reliable broadband, phones and computers. As well as this, you might need to train your workers remotely, keeping them up to date on relevant legislations etc. via online training. You should consider this, especially if you have remote workers that find it more difficult to pop into the office from where they're based.
The future of the working environment most definitely lies in flexible working and flexible workspaces, there's no doubt about that. Most companies seem to be implementing at least part of this idea already, with lots of people rolling out ‘flexitime’ schemes to give their workers more freedom. The world of business is already adapting to these changes, as will facilities management of business and properties as well as internal and outsourced resources. What do you think of flexible working? Will you consider it, or have you already implemented it? Tweet us your thoughts at @thefmnetwork !