Majority of firms considering ‘meet-up’ spaces rather than full-time offices

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More than three in four UK business managers feel that 'collaborative' workspaces will be most suitable for their organisation post-lockdown, according to new research.

A late August survey of 1,000 UK managers by telecommunications provider Onecom found that 77% agreed that more casual workspaces designed to facilitate meetings and collaborative working, such as a co-working space, would have significant advantages for their business over a full-time, staffed office.

Only 7% of managers disagreed that they could see the benefits of a collaborative workspace over a full-time office.

The study also surveyed 1,000 general workers at UK businesses to find out how employees have been coping with working at home through the coronavirus pandemic.

56% said the way in which their work teams operate has now ‘changed forever’, suggesting that many workers may now be expecting their work arrangements to change for good, even once further restrictions are lifted for good.

Onecom head of HR Parysa Hosseini-Sech told HR Magazine: “In my view the pandemic has accelerated an existing trend towards more remote working and flexible hours.

“In many ways, the 9-to-5 office culture was already a thing of the past for many businesses pre COVID-19 due to an expanding 24/7 economy and more demanding customers and employees.

“Large numbers of businesses still want and need substantial cover during that 9-5pm window. However, most have become much more flexible on varying staff working hours around the edge of this window and some are even radically rethinking work hours altogether where their business model allows it.

“The challenge for many businesses now is to find new long-term ways of using technology and training managers to facilitate communication, connect with teams, manage productivity and support wellbeing while working remotely.”

Hosseini-Sech added she believes many businesses would find a change of environment both productive and beneficial.

“It does however depend on the space, the team and the purpose of meeting up. There is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to meetings and sharing ideas. While a park bench and a coffee might be suitable for a one-to-one with a colleague, the plethora of co-working spaces out there, many of which are well equipped to facilitate sharing, will be more appropriate for planning or review meetings.

“The key to getting this setup to work is going to be diligent planning and getting the right technology in place to facilitate idea sharing remotely. That means managers arranging external meeting spaces in advance and thinking more about what’s needed to facilitate a productive exchange of ideas for each meeting.

“It will also mean being creative about using video conferencing and online collaboration tools to encourage idea sharing that might otherwise happen more naturally in an office setting.”

Further reading:

HR leaders in favour of fewer offices

People-perfect workplace design

HR must encourage collaboration

HR's key role in enlightened office design

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