What roles do offices play in the new working world?
The global landscape of work has undergone a profound transformation in recent times, and as a result, the traditional office space is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution.
Since the pandemic, the idea of a traditional, dedicated office space has dramatically changed. With the rise of remote working, hybrid working, and flexible working, it has become increasingly less common for people to use office spaces on a full-time basis.
Does this mean the office as we know it – or used to know it – has become redundant? Will the five-day office week ever make a return? Let’s delve into the dynamic shifts shaping the new working world and explore the multifaceted roles that offices now play in supporting modern work environments.
The future of the office
In the new working world, offices have evolved into adaptable collaboration hubs. These spaces are designed to foster creativity, encourage teamwork, and facilitate face-to-face interactions. The physical office becomes a central point for project discussions, brainstorming sessions, and team-building activities, enhancing the collaborative spirit that drives innovation.
But there’s no denying that hybrid working has grown in popularity since the pandemic, with 56% of London professionals even saying they would not accept a job that does not offer hybrid working, meaning the role of the office has fundamentally changed.
With the rise of remote and flexible work options, offices now serve as essential components of connecting hybrid workforces by offering employees more control over their productivity.
Modern employees are able to embrace flexibility and choice, utilising offices as a strategic space for team gatherings, important meetings, and collaborative projects rather than an everyday destination. Access to a dedicated office space on a hybrid basis helps strike a balance between the convenience of remote work and the benefits of in-person collaboration.
Offices contribute significantly to establishing and maintaining culture. They serve as physical representations of a company’s values, mission, and identity. Whether through branded interiors, shared spaces, or company events, offices play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose among employees.
But what’s next for hybrid working?
Despite a clear preference for hybrid working being vocalised by employees worldwide, a recent survey by KPMG found that 64% of leaders globally, and 63% of those in the UK, predict a return to in-office working by 2026.
While employers may be vying for a transitioned return to the office in the next few years, the same cannot be said for the majority of employees. And it’s clear why.
Several studies and surveys have highlighted numerous benefits of hybrid and remote working, from improvements in work-life balance to having access to a global talent pool.
This isn’t to say that remote working and hybrid working methods are perfect, nor are they suitable for everyone, especially those in industries where working from home isn’t an option. For example, in a recent survey about hybrid working, 23% of respondents said that they felt disconnected from their team while 17% had a poor setup/lack of equipment at home.
Some of these pain points experienced by hybrid workers could simply be due to a lack of support or not having the right tools or equipment in place for effective communication and collaboration. Other issues, such as security concerns and at-home distractions can be more difficult to tackle, highlighting why the office space is here to stay in one form or another.
The rise of co-working spaces
While co-working spaces have been around way before the pandemic, there’s been a significant increase in both the number of co-working spaces and the number of people who use them.
By the end of 2024, the number of coworking spaces is set to grow by 116%, reaching a projected 41,975 spaces. In 2018, 1.65m people used co-working spaces, this increased to 1.93m in 2020 and is projected to increase to 5m by 2024. These figures highlight the movement towards a non-traditional office, the co-working space.
So, why are co-working spaces so popular?
The rise of remote working and hybrid working has naturally increased the demand for flexible office solutions such as co-working spaces. Because of this, co-working spaces have become popular with freelancers and small businesses alike.
Here are some of the top reasons why co-working spaces are growing in popularity:
Wellbeing and employee satisfaction
The new working world places a heightened focus on employee well-being, meaning to attract talent back into the workplace, offices have had to transform into wellness and experience centres. From ergonomic workstations to recreational areas and wellness programs, offices aim to enhance the overall employee experience. Providing a supportive and healthy environment contributes to employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.
Collaboration and creativity
Away from any potential distractions and being surrounded by like-minded people, co-working spaces are perfect for getting the creative juices flowing. Co-working spaces are also great for collaborating with other team members, meeting up with clients, and getting to know other co-workers.
Spaces like these naturally foster a sense of community by bringing together professionals from a variety of industries, making spaces like these great for collaborating and connecting with others.
Flexible and cost-effective
Co-working spaces offer businesses the flexibility to upscale without having to deal with large upfront costs and long-term leases. Instead, those using co-working spaces can enjoy the benefits of an office space on a short-term basis, allowing them to scale their operations easily.
Upskilling and knowledge sharing
Co-working spaces are great for meeting a variety of like-minded professionals with different skills in different industries. As such, these spaces are ideal for meeting new faces, picking up new skills, and sharing knowledge.
Offices are essential for training and professional development. They offer a designated environment for onboarding new employees, hosting workshops, and conducting skill-building sessions. The physical presence of mentors and trainers fosters a more immersive learning experience, contributing to the continuous growth of individuals and teams.
Many remote workers and hybrid workers report that they often feel isolated and lonely while working from home. The act of simply going to a co-working space and being surrounded by others can really help keep those feelings of isolation at bay. Plus, co-working spaces are great for meeting new people and building meaningful connections.
When you’re working from home, the line between work and home life can easily become blurred. The simple act of physically going somewhere else to work for the day can help alleviate this problem and provide you with a healthier and happier work-life balance.
Read more about the benefits of co-working.
With the above in mind, it’s easy to see why the new working world demands a fresh perspective on the roles of offices and how co-working spaces have been embraced as the new normal.
Businesses and employees alike are no longer confined to traditional norms, which can only be a positive for embracing a dynamic and adaptive approach to work that prioritises collaboration, culture, employee well-being, and connectivity.
As we navigate this evolving landscape, understanding and leveraging the multifaceted roles of offices will be key to fostering a thriving and agile work environment.
From beautifully designed co-working spaces to spacious meeting rooms and private offices, there are plenty of spaces to suit any hybrid or remote workforce at Adapt by Arc.