A global surge in hybrid working trends will fuel the growth of local flexspaces and place greater emphasis on the office experience. Landlords and franchise operators can tailor their offerings accordingly to better benefit people, profits and the planet.

As the hybrid work movement intensifies around the world, it’s no exaggeration to say that – for hundreds of millions of people – working life will never be the same again. For commercial landlords, franchise operators, and other investors, being in lockstep with the changing needs of their corporate clients is the key to success. It is incumbent upon them to tailor their offerings to better suit the needs and priorities of their clients as they chart a path to success in the new world of work. 

IWG’s white paper, The Future of Work reveals the trends that franchise operators and investors need to know. These will help to shape and inform their clients’ workspace strategies, and help investors to tailor their offerings accordingly for mutual benefit. Let’s take a look at some of the most relevant and important for those investing in flexspaces.

IWG Bangkok Thailand Coworking Space

Reduced overheads

In these economically tumultuous times, as utility bills and supply chain costs skyrocket, businesses are actively looking for ways to reduce operating costs. 

One of the many benefits of hybrid working is that offices no longer have to accommodate all employees at the same time, meaning companies can downsize their real estate footprint, reducing their overheads from rent and other associated costs. 

The potential savings are significant: according to Global Workplace Analytics, employers can save about US$11,000 every year for every person working in the hybrid model. Companies can boost their profit margins and reinvest the cash into other areas, such as learning and development for their employees, marketing, infrastructure, and other areas that are crucial for sustainable business growth. 

Revitalising local areas

The beauty of the hybrid model is that it uncouples the workforce from sprawling city centre offices. A new trend of suburban revitalisation is emerging as workers spend more time (and money) closer to where they live. As well as saving employees time and fuel costs, this can help to channel consumer spending outside of urban hubs and towards smaller local businesses catering to a new surge in demand. 

In the UK, IWG has seen the highest increase in demand for its flexible workspaces in suburban areas such as Bromsgrove and Andover. 

“With hundreds more rural and suburban flexible working locations expected to open, we expect a wide range of vibrant local communities to develop with thriving businesses at their heart,” says Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of IWG.

Supporting employees

During the Covid-19 pandemic, employee wellbeing, both physical and mental, took centre stage. Moving forwards, wellbeing and avoidance of burnout will continue to be of prime importance, with human relations taking the place of human resources.

The hybrid model empowers employees to find a way of working that suits them best, giving them a better work-life balance that doesn’t involve a long commute to a city-centre office five days a week. This is paving the way for the trend of workforce dispersion, as employees can choose to relocate to rural or coastal areas where they can enjoy a better quality of life (and cheaper house prices).

Hybrid working will also enable businesses to recruit from a much wider talent pool, rather than limiting their search to certain areas within commutable distance to their headquarters. As a result, landlords and franchisees can expect to step outside of their comfort zones and pursue spaces within the new world of work, to meet the requirements of their newly distributed workforces. 

Working better and more effectively

Cloud-based tech has been central to the success of hybrid working, and more online tools are likely to be rolled out to aid companies both large and small when it comes to virtual collaboration. A little further into the future, the metaverse will transform the world of videoconferencing, allowing us to interact as avatars in whatever virtual setting we choose.

Measuring productivity will also be the next logical step in the hybrid revolution, as businesses focus on effectiveness as an output rather than presenteeism. Tools that monitor, track and assess workflow such as Quixy, Hive and Nintex are likely to be integrated into an increasing number of company operations. 

Of course, there are certain aspects of employee performance that can’t be measured, such as fresh thinking and innovation – and the physical workplace will remain a vital place for collective creativity. Landlords and franchise operators will have an opportunity to wow their clients by providing inspiring and interactive spaces that enhance creativity, relationship building and face-to-face communication. All while enabling their employees to use these facilities in a way that best fits their own lifestyles and working needs.

The sustainability dividend

Businesses need to demonstrate an awareness of the climate crisis we all face. As such, companies across 2022 and in the future will be looking to their franchise operators and landlords to help them achieve their ESG goals using flexspace solutions. As Mark Dixon puts it: “There’s no doubt that sustainability is now very much front of mind for companies around the world – and they know this is something their customers expect.”

The hybrid working model brings considerable sustainability benefits. The most obvious, perhaps, is the significant reduction in their carbon footprint that can be achieved through a smaller real estate portfolio (including extensive savings on energy and water consumption) and the reduced need to commute. But hybrid working can also benefit many other areas, including gains in gender equality, good health and wellbeing, clean energy and sustainable communities.

Franchise operators are already building sustainability into the flexible workspace industry with everything from solar panels to low-waste air conditioning systems, EV charging points and rewilding zones featuring in their property portfolios. 

Read more about the ten trends in IWG’s white paper, The Future of Work: a trends forecast for 2022.

At IWG, we have spent 30 years refining and optimising our business model. As the world’s largest provider to the flexible workspace industry, we’re passionate about helping landlords and franchisees join the workspace revolution. Find out how we can support you today.

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