Sue Cooke, CEO of 3M BIC discusses how changes in working practices triggered by Covid-19 will lead to an increase in the use of satellite spaces for larger companies.
We have seen the days of commuters tolerating a packed commute by train or bus fall away so drastically during the lockdown that I can’t envisage employees wanting to return to the old model of big city commuting anytime soon. People with cars have retreated to the private sanctuary of their own vehicles if they need to head into the city. Even with lighter traffic during lockdown, the traffic jams expected once people return at scale are not going to be tolerable either.
How are companies are adapting
Here at the 3M BIC we have seen a rise in enquiries from people who work in Leeds, wanting a space they can work in which is not their kitchen table. The novelty of ‘WFH’ is wearing thin and the reality of ‘living at work’ with limited separation between your home and professional life is proving stressful for many. It is a lonely existence for those who live alone and can be chaotic for those sharing with housemates or families with many demands on space and broadband. Funnily enough, we are missing our work colleagues more than we thought!
How satellite office spaces can help adapt
Companies wanting to bridge the divide between full-time working from home and a scary-seeming return to a city office block are discovering the benefits of a blended model. By taking up flexible deals with managed workspaces in surrounding towns like Huddersfield, Halifax and Wakefield, they can offer small scale mini-offices for groups of their workers to gather, on days when they need informal catch ups with human contact rather than the formality of a video call.
They will find a professional environment for a client meeting, or a socially distanced meeting room for team creativity to flow. Employees might want peace and quiet to concentrate away from the family, or the chance to guarantee decent broadband to get important projects completed effectively.
For larger corporates, a satellite office housing 6 desks can cater for a cluster of say 15-25 locally resident staff who form a rota system to manage their ‘office days’ in a socially distanced space. They will enjoy a professional business environment with flexibility to book additional meeting rooms where needed, but not have the responsibility of managing multiple buildings, reception desks and all the necessary utilities and costs.
The availability of parking at managed workspaces in towns offers the added reassurance for staff who will drive to work when this is on offer, when often is not a practical option for large city centres with limited or expensive parking.
Time-share or Pop-Up Offices
In pre-coronavirus times, these needs might have been best served by a co-working space or hotdesking facility. Mid-pandemic, people are still nervous of reopening those facilities which are predicated on the buzz of a shared space operating with many different people. There is a craving for society, but at this stage, it seems to be with people you know.
At the 3M BIC we are adapting our offer to include flexible lease arrangements, for example, the idea of a part-time office rental, where one company rents a space the first half of the week, then its staff WFH for the remainder, and a different company rents it for the second half of the week in reverse, with a deep clean in between.
We are also offering ‘pop-up’ offices, which is a daily rental model where companies or freelancers can rent a self-contained office by the day, from £30 + VAT, bookable up to a month in advance.
Whilst the Government has asked office workers to WFH for the coming winter, we expect that companies are already preparing for ways to ensure the best of both worlds for their employees when the virus threat reduces.
Innovation in the previously constant world of office life has never been so vigorous! This feels like a good thing both for companies and their diverse workforces, some of whom have regained a little more quality of life amidst the traumatic months we’ve been through, that they would like to build into their future working lives.
For more information about our satellite office spaces and time-share and pop up office packages, call the team on 01484 505601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.