Management / Flexible working could save firms money and improve London’s transport network
Flexible working could save firms money and improve London’s transport network
18 November 2016 |
If you’re reading this article as an escape from your morning Tube journey, you might be in luck. Experts predict that by 2030, many companies will give their employees the option of working closer to home, away from their central London hubs.
Property firm JLL’s report – Workspace, Reworked – predicts sweeping changes in the ways in which businesses use their office space, which could lead to less rush-hour travel and more comfortable and hi-tech workplaces for Londoners in years to come.
“Basically, we’ll see organisations re-evaluate the function and value of the office,” explains Tom Carroll, director of EMEA and UK corporate occupier research at JLL. “We expect to see less of the process-driven aspect of work conducted in core office locations in central London, so we will see a reduction in the amount of those types of processes that are taking place in core real estate and we’ll see a range of new spaces develop to complement core office space.
“We’ve seen an enormous rise in serviced office, flexible and co-working space in London over the last five years and we expect to see that continue, because that flexibility will become increasingly important to how organisations operate going forward.”
The report predicts that 30 per cent of businesses’ real estate portfolios will consist of flexible spaces by 2025, and the nature of those buildings is also changing.
“We’re seeing the first generation of smart buildings coming onto the market,” Carroll says. “I think that’s a factor we expect to continue and develop over the next ten to 15 years.
“We think that’ll create a range of data, moving towards a situation of a pretty much data-defined workspace, where organisations are able to evaluate the effectiveness of their workplace and adjust and adapt it to improve the experience for their staff, very much having increased choice for employees and for their staff in terms of how they work and having greater
selection in terms of the environment in which they work.”
As well as internet of things-connected buildings, Carroll also expects virtual and augmented reality and greater use of personal devices to become the norm in day-to-day working environments.
“We certainly expect to see virtual reality and augmented reality integrated into the workplace for training and collaboration,” he says. “We also expect to see smartphone and wearable technology really start to become one of the key ways in which users are able to navigate the workplace and
select the environment in which they wish to work.”
While this may sound like technology for technology’s sake, Carroll explains that it actually serves to provide more flexibility to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding workforce.
“New generations coming into the workplace are driving transformation and change,” he says. “Technology is enabling mobility in a way that’s not been seen before, and I think organisations are becoming better equipped to react and adapt to that. And more than just reacting to it, they’re realising that it can be a competitive advantage to create a work environment that really supports the needs of top-tier talent.”
In addition to attracting the best workers possible, the move could also save firms money, as they are likely to need less space in expensive areas like central London.
“If you are able to reduce your core real estate in high-cost locations by using flexible formats, there may be some benefits to organisations reducing their headcount and the space required in those locations,” Carroll says, adding that a side effect could be a less strained – and therefore more comfortable – transport system.
“If you have that increasing flexibility, it may ease the day-to-day pressures on the public transport system,” he says. “If you have a more flexible and dispersed workforce, it could improve some of that
rush-hour pressure on the system if we see it truly integrated into corporate strategies on a consistent basis.”
So what’s the key to ensuring your business makes the most of 2030’s new opportunities? Carroll says this requires harmony between a firm’s innovation, technology, HR and sustainability strategies – and planning for that needs to start now.
“I think today you can really be in the planning and analysis process,” he says. “You can really start to evaluate your current mix within the portfolio and really start to focus on delivering a greater user experience from your workplace and real estate.
“While the pace of technological change is going to be huge, I think the key thing for successfully implementing this is to ensure that it’s improving the day-to-day experience of your staff, of your people.”