The demand for flexible workspace in the UK is increasing as employers look to bring staff back into the office.
One of the main reasons for this is that flexible workspaces have shorter contracts than typical leases and enable organisations to move straight in. Flexible workspaces have the benefit of expanding and contracting office footprint in line with staff numbers and budgets in line with business growth.
After the uncertainty of covid, this greater level of flexibility is valuable as organisations get to grips with new norms and as yet unknown headcount into the future. Fully furnished and with all-inclusive costs, flexible workspaces assist companies with planning. Short-term rolling contracts enable a more agile operation than typical leases, and with them comes the opportunity to transform with changing markets.
Future-proofing with Flexible Office Furniture
Many tenanted flexible workspaces are fully furnished, but if you’re furnishing or refurbishing your own workspace, then the furniture and working environments also need to be flexible to ensure a level of adaptability and future-proofing.
The future of work is still evolving with no ‘one-fits-all’ solution so if you are investing, select desks and storage that can be easily re-configured in line with business growth. Make sure you also invest in good quality pieces that will stand the test of time.
Rather than buy one item with a fixed purpose, look for office furniture that can be used in more than one way, as this will optimise your investment as well as the layout possibilities. Mobile partitioning on braked castors for example is a quick and easy way to divide up space as needed and may be reconfigured several times a week in busy offices. Upholstery on one or both sides can also provide acoustic support by absorbing noise. Conversely, you may choose a dry wipe glass board for both sides so your mobile partition also becomes a mobile whiteboard – the possibilities are endless.
Battery-powered height adjustable desks on braked casters give ultimate flexibility as they don’t have to be attached directly to floor-boxes or power sources – some of these can also be converted to a dry wipe board for impromptu meetings and brainstorming. Be aware of how one space can potentially be reconfigured to adapt to different tasks and select your furniture accordingly.
Flexibility Through Furniture Rental
One of the biggest issues when furnishing an office is often the initial investment, which may affect the cash flow needed for future growth. Quality furniture requires a larger initial investment but is more likely to contribute to staff comfort, performance and productivity – key performance indicators for any successful business. Quality furniture shows your staff that you care about their working environment and wellbeing – it’s an investment in your team.
If you’re looking for short-term flexible furniture solutions, then tailored rental packages will ease the financial strain. High-quality rental allows capital to be spent on other resources enabling you to focus on growing other aspects of your business.
Rental furniture can simply be collected at the end of the term ready to be refurbished for re-rental, so it’s also a sustainable option.
To spread financial costs over a longer term of 3-5 years, it’s also worth considering leasing your furniture packages, with the option to purchase at the end. You can choose exactly the furniture you want, conserve capital and offset costs against company tax. Options at the end of the term include purchase, collect, or the development of a new furniture lease package more in line with your evolving company requirements.
Flexible and Hybrid Working Styles
Flexible working practices are here to stay. Before the lockdown, 68% of British employees had never worked from home, yet now working from home is commonplace. Indeed, 57% of workers want to continue working from home either full-time or on a hybrid basis.
It’s likely that, where possible, many staff will continue to do more concentrated, quiet or focused work at home, and return to the office for more collaborative work as needed. Not everyone will have this luxury so employers have the task of creating safe operational working spaces for all the tasks that need to be completed for the business to be successful.
Key issues include safety and the ability to maintain or re-introduce social distancing solutions as needed in the future, acoustic comfort for quieter, calmer spaces for focused work, and the provision of a variety of appealing workspaces to entice staff back to work e.g. team pods, huddle booths, more social spaces, increased soft seating and break out spaces, more comfortable environments, increased consideration for wellbeing. Businesses are navigating these changes, working hard to maintain and develop company culture, relationships and environments conducive to communication, mentoring, buddy coaching and learning - all vital for businesses to thrive.
Office design is undergoing a renaissance. With so many offices adopting hybrid working, many companies are introducing hot-desking systems and redesigning existing space to give people more options about the surroundings they prefer to work in.
This is reflected in sales of laptops which have overtaken those of desktop computers. Indeed, the laptop market is projected to be worth more than three times that of the desktop by 2025. With more employees being issued their own laptops, the days of having a permanent desk for every employee are pretty much over – our workspaces are changing and hopefully for the better.
Flexibility for Future-Proofing
The pandemic has re-shaped all areas of our working life. Businesses are becoming leaner, more efficient and more flexible in order to survive and grow. We all need to be prepared to adapt, change and pivot in this climate of rapid change which is well and truly upon us.
Covid has taught us to expect the unexpected and, for many, flexibility will be the key to future business success.