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Flexible workspaces are the post-Covid future of work. Here’s why.

In a little more than a year and a half, Covid-19 has transformed our perspective of the workplace. Instead of long commutes to and fro from the office and 9-5 workdays, remote work has allowed employees across industries to customise their schedules and work environments to fit their individual needs. This has made workplace flexibility an employee favourite. According to Insurance company, Unum, flexible and remote work emerged as one of the top benefits employees wanted. 

Image source: Pexels
Data source: Unum, 2021

Similarly, according to a WeWork and Workplace Intelligence report (2021), 75% of employees would be willing to give up ‘at least one benefit or perk for the freedom to choose their work environment’. Several corporate giants have already made the decisive move towards remote work arrangements. In late-2020, Twitter provided employees with the option of working from home indefinitely. Facebook and Shopify also made similar announcements after. 

Last year’s lockdown gave businesses and their employees a taster of what prolonged flexible work arrangements would look like. The enthusiasm in which people have taken to remote work however, has made flexible workspaces more than a temporary solution to bridge over Covid-19 restrictions. It’s become a long-term solution for most businesses navigating the future of work.

Cost and Convenience

One of the most obvious benefits of going remote is the reduced costs and increased convenience enjoyed by both businesses and their employees.

Businesses

An increased dependence on telecommuting means that businesses can drastically cut down on overhead costs. Now that employees can congregate for team meetings over Zoom or host small-scale gatherings at flexible workspaces periodically, businesses can cut down on office space and rental costs. And let’s not forget the associated utility and office supplies costs that businesses would save on if they went remote. 

Global Workplace Analytics estimated that employers save up to $11000 per year for each halftime remote worker. Correspondingly, Singapore’s Channel News Asia noted that the increased uptake of remote work systems was likely driven by ‘reduced real estate, travel and infrastructure costs’. 

These cost savings could easily translate to improved remote work systems and online tools to aid employees in their transition to flexible work arrangements. Alternatively, businesses could use the increased profits to offset operational costs or invest in product innovation. The possibilities are endless.

Employees

The benefits of remote work aren’t just one-sided. Value Champion estimates found that ‘the median household in Singapore spent about S$781 per month on transportation, representing about 16% of their monthly budget’. That’s more than $9000 per year. 

Remote work not only provides employees with the flexibility to work from home, it also provides employees with the option of travelling to workspaces nearer to home should they be in need of a professional work environment. Hence, such workspace solutions closely revolve around the revolutionary concept of the ‘15-minute city’ where most needs (including work-related needs) are met within a short walking or biking distance. Needless to say, this could result in immense cost savings for employees.

Additionally, remote work also saves employees a great deal in terms of miscellaneous expenses. For instance, Singaporeans have been recognised as southeast Asia’s top spenders for dining – spending an average of $248 per month on eating out at food courts, restaurants and bars. When employees have the ability to cut out the exhausting and expensive commute from their schedules and work closer to home, attempting cheaper and healthier home-cooked meals becomes more feasible after a day’s work. 

Accessing Global Talent Pools

Remote work allows people to work from anywhere, anytime. Having a robust remote work system allows hiring managers to broaden their search for the best candidates for a job. Rather than confining new hires to a set office space, employees can check-in from any location and start their workday. 

Image Source: Pexels

Additionally, over the past year, there has been a clear demand from professionals for more flexible work arrangements. 95% of employees expressed a desire for ‘some level of control over how, when and where they work’. IWG found that 80% of workers in America would prioritise a job offer with flexible benefits over a job that did not. This phenomenon has been mirrored in Asia where a recent survey of 9000 workers revealed remote and flexible work options to be top priorities in the post-pandemic era. 

The signal is clear. If businesses want to remain competitive in terms of attracting and retaining talent, flexible work arrangements are an imperative. Hanging on to the pre-pandemic status quo only limits the talent pool accessible to businesses. More significantly, businesses need to seriously consider the prolonged nature of the Covid-19 crisis – the constantly disruptive and destabilising effects of the pandemic has either made remote work a necessity or an expectation amongst job seekers today.

Increasing Labour Productivity and Efficiency

Contrary to stereotypes of remote workers as unengaged and unproductive, numerous studies have proved the opposite. Remote work has actually boosted productivity and output. A study by Great Place to Work conducted between 2019 to 2020 on Fortune 500 companies reported ‘stable or even increased productivity levels after employees started working from home’. Similarly, 52% of company executives also reported an increase in employee productivity with remote work.

Of course the productivity gains from remote work aren’t just a transient phenomenon of the Covid-19 crisis. Past research has clearly shown that remote teams perform better. In a 2013 Stanford study on call centre workers, home working resulted in a ‘13% performance increase’, and ‘improved work satisfaction and… less turnover’. Similarly a study on American retailer Best Buy, reported a 35% increase in employee productivity following the introduction of its flexible work program. Remote work places businesses in the optimal position of having the best of both worlds – happy and productive employees. 

Neutralising the Negatives of Remote Work

Remote work hasn’t all been picture perfect. Work from home arrangements have left many remote workers feeling lonely and mentally drained due to blurred boundaries between home and office. Those logging in from home have expressed difficulty in juggling work responsibilities and home duties as well. 

Hence remote workspaces have emerged as the perfect solution. Businesses can continue to reap the perks of remote work while ensuring that their employees remain engaged and connected to a network of professionals. Whether it’s free coffee, meeting rooms or shared coworking areas, satellite offices create social opportunities for remote workers to interact and bond with their team. Such interactions are ultimately crucial in integrating hires into the wider company culture and improving employee loyalty. 

So far, 76% of C-suite executives have expressed a willingness to provide ‘their employees with a stipend to work from home or a coworking office’. Matchingly, a good 34% of employees said that they would prefer to spend their work time at ‘Other locations’ (e.g. a company satellite office, coworking/flexible shared office space, or a public third space). By investing in remote workspaces, businesses can provide their employees with fully-equipped, professional, focus-ready work environments, while still cutting down on real estate costs. 

Key Summary

In short, remote workspaces present a holistic solution for businesses that considers cost, convenience and company culture. Top business decision-makers need to see past the (highly-inaccurate) stigma attached to remote work, and instead focus on bettering employees’ remote work experience if they want to adapt to the highly-agile post-pandemic future of work.

About Deskimo

Deskimo is the flexible work platform of choice that helps businesses navigate the new future of work.

With us, you and your business can adapt to flexible work, and pay-as-you-go across more than 30 workspaces in Singapore. Find your perfect workspace today.

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