Is the death of the office in sight?

 

Workspaces where everyone sits at their desk from nine to five are becoming scarce, says Eleisha McNeill. The future of work is flexible spaces or working from home.

Already workspaces have changed. Remember when everyone had their own office? Or the days of clocking on at nine and heading home at five? What about staring for eight hours at the walls of a cubicle?

There was opposition when open-plan offices arrived, and when we accepted them, everyone was trying to drown each other out on the phone.

Today, if you work in an office, you’re less likely even to have your own desk.

Employees are increasingly asking for flexible work arrangements, and cloud storage allows them to work remotely, meaning the concept of a specific work ‘place’ is starting to change.

Many of us can work from home

An MYOB study recently showed over a third of all businesses already allow staff to work away from the office.

Sixty-nine per cent of businesses with revenue of more than $5 million allow staff to work from home. But there’s still resistance from older business owners, with less than one per cent of employers over the age of 70 offering flexible work options.

Pierre Ferrandon, New Zealand country manager of International Workspace Group (IWG), says the resistance to flexible work spaces and working from other remote locations is common here.

Management styles need to change

“We still see a large number of managers who are unable to adopt an output-based management style and still rely on time spent in the office to measure their employee productivity,” he says.

“Changing the managers’ mind-sets and providing them the tools to manage their staff differently will certainly help boost the adoption of flexible working arrangements.”

IWG owns 16 flexible work spaces in four centres around New Zealand, 12 of those in Auckland.

The company bought co-working provider BizDojo in February. It’s a network of shared offices where communities of freelancers, contractors, or teams can work alongside each other.

Co-working spaces are flexible

Spaces like these are particularly popular with start-ups, who don’t want to lock in to or can’t afford office leases. You can normally rent a desk by the day, the week, or permanently. Those wanting more privacy or storage can rent a private space. 

Ferrandon says flexible work space represents only around 0.5 per cent of the total commercial office stock in New Zealand, compared to around three per cent in cities like London, but the market here is growing faster than many other cities.

In Auckland alone, a study by Bayleys Research showed the Auckland office area occupied by co-working space had almost doubled between August 2016 and August 2017, from 15,000 square metres to 28,000 square metres.

Research from CBRE shows the trend is changing how the market operates, too.

Companies lease 10 per cent less space

There’s demand for higher-quality workplaces, and companies are leasing up to 10 per cent less space by moving to flexible work spaces. Unassigned seating, or ‘hot-desking’ as it often referred to, has become more common, and more spaces are being tailored towards a specific task.

“I don’t think it will be the end of the traditional workplace, but more a shift towards adopting a network of offices, rather than a single location,” says Ferrandon.

“Companies will adopt a workspace-as-a-service model whereby employees can work from co-working or serviced office locations on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“It’s evolving towards a more efficient way of using traditional real estate.”

First published 29 May, 2018

Story by Eleisha McNeill

JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.


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