By David Seinker, founder and CEO, The Business Exchange
Just a year ago the concept of remote work was little more than a pipedream for millions of employees around the world. In a matter of weeks, the onset of COVID-19 accelerated the transition to more flexible working arrangements, and soon the term ‘WFH’ (work from home) was as overtraded as the ‘new normal’.
But now, as we begin 2021 feeling the full force of the second wave of the pandemic, we face this very important question: Has the office left the building… forever?
The latter quarter of 2020 highlighted the reality that that space we tend to have mixed feelings about – the office – is also great for collaboration and connecting with colleagues. In fact, the longer employees are away from the office the more they miss out on the casual interactions that play a subtle but critical role in business success and innovation.
But while we miss the office, it’s also clear that we can’t simply go back to the way things were before. WFH has made both employers and their staff acknowledge the value of flexibility, raising the stakes for a hybrid option going forward that allows for time in the office, and makes provision for remote work. So what will that look like in practice?
The solution is likely to lie in a flexible, hybrid model that allows staff to work from the office on certain days of the week and remotely on others – as is offered by a serviced office solution.
This model also offers significant benefits for companies concerned about being tied down by long, inflexible leases in the current fast-changing world of work. If they choose the option of a fully-serviced professional office in which to pursue this hybrid approach, they can save on rental costs through more efficient utilisation of space and associated costs, including large fit-outs, furniture and even IT infrastructure.
Fully-serviced, such as those offered by The Business Exchange, and even shared office spaces are also exactly the kind of working environments that throw up myriad fruitful opportunities for collaboration and those ‘accidental’ encounters that result in fruitful problem-solving, when compared to the traditional leased office.
International companies too are increasingly turning to the flexibility of a serviced office; it offers employees respite from the WFH set-up which can often prove challenging for the long term, while also providing the ideal alternative for any essential socially-distanced team meetings. And South Africa looks set to follow the trend – especially considering that this type of office space is available at far more competitive rates than most long-term lease agreements.