With the majority of us forced to work from home during lockdown, the appetite for lengthy commutes to the workplace has drastically reduced.
Our working life has been reshaped and businesses are being forced to adjust and become more adaptable to employee needs. However, while workers now want the best of both worlds, this could pay dividends for employers in equal measure. Jon Dickman from managed workspace provider, Needspace, explores the reasons why having an office space closer to home could be the solution for both employers and employees alike.
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A new trend towards mixed working
Employees have now had a taste of the benefits that working from home can bring to their work-life balance. Although it’s not a utopian model, it has brought about a renewed sense of ‘quality time’ and its importance. The British Council for Offices (BCO) has found that post-Covid, white-collar workers will likely adopt a mixed approach; combining a more balanced home and office working schedule, with the ideal ratio of two home days and three office days. A large part of the rationale for this is due to the time it takes to commute to the office every day. Pre lockdown, TUC research showed that the average UK commute was just under one hour a day, with Londoners unsurprisingly having the longest commute at one hour and 21 minutes a day. As a result, workers have felt the benefit of not being faced with the tiring, and often stressful, travel time it takes to get from door to door on a daily basis. It’s no wonder so many don’t want to return to that way of working again.
Higher standard of living with reduced commuter costs
Having an office closer to home would also result in a higher disposable income for most workers. According to Total Jobs, UK workers will spend over £135,000 on commuting costs by the time they retire, with Londoners spending an average of £305 per month to travel to and from work. This is further reinforced by a recent global study of 120 countries which found that 40% of people want to work closer to home. It also showed that 70% of London commuters want to reduce their commute time and only 8% of Brits are now willing to travel more than an hour to work. In short, people want to claw back their personal time, to either spend on themselves or to get a head start on the day.
Improved personal and professional wellbeing
While working from home does have its benefits, introducing this longer term as a full time measure will have limitations – particularly when it comes to employees’ mental health and professional development. This is why having a flexible office environment in closer-to-home commuter belts such as those provided by Needspace is appealing. We understand small businesses and our flexible office space was born out of a desire to support them while meeting the needs of their workforce.
The reduced overhead cost of not having an office at all, is also a shortsighted benefit for businesses, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Although workers tend to work longer days at home, send more emails, and attend more but shorter meetings, this increased productivity for businesses is a short term positive. Downsides include increased stress levels, reduced motivation and engagement and increased likelihood of employee burnout; all factors which contribute to a long-term detrimental impact on a business. Employees value face-to-face interaction with colleagues, an inspiring work environment and a change of scenery. With an office closer to home, staff can enjoy perks such as popping home for lunch, more time for exercise and outdoor pursuits and fewer outgoings.
As businesses continue to adapt to the ever-changing sense of normal during this persistent pandemic, quality but affordable managed space in the right accessible location will be the key to success. Gone are the days of being tied into long leases, astronomical rents and vanity addresses. This is the beauty of Needspace. The cost-effective flexibility of our workspaces has always been our strength and we are on hand to support forward thinking businesses that recognise this is the new balance their employees now need.
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Clapham North Arts Centre, 26-32 Voltaire Road, SW4 6DH
A flexible office, studio and workshop space within walking distance of Clapham High Street.