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Will offices soon become a thing of the past?

Could you soon be working in a co-habited office space? According to research, that’s now a real possibility.

Property firm JLL has estimated that demand for flexible, ‘co-working’ spaces will grow by 30% each year for the next 5 years, as technology continues to ignite a seismic shift in the way businesses and people work. Businesses are turning to scalable technology solutions that grow and develop with them; scalability is now becoming essential in physical workspaces too.

Once the sole domain of fresh start-ups and freelance workers who needed a break from their pyjamas and sofa, co-working spaces have increased in popularity as businesses downsize their office spaces or forego them entirely.

Co-working spaces already take up a significant portion of commercial property; a sixth of all new commercial properties in the UK this year are flexible workspaces.

Thanks to flexible and mobile technologies like Office 365 and hosted telephony solutions, your people can work from virtually anywhere. In fact, today our Office 365 expert Tony Hughes has been working on his way to a team meeting…from the backseat of a car!

 

At TSG, we blend office-based staff with home-workers, and even colleagues that are based with our customers full-time as part of our IT support offering – none of our people have difficulties because of these anytime, anywhere technologies.

As with all major business decisions, utilising shared office spaces is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. All of our staff, including our home-workers, have the ability to come to the office to aid collaboration and even to ensure they feel a part of #TeamTSG. By purchasing shared office space because there’s no room to expand at your own office, you could be taking vital collaboration opportunities away from your colleagues.

The best way to approach flexible working is to blend a number of options to allow your people to work in a way that best suits them individually, but also meets your business needs. 83% of people want the ability to work from home (Business Matters), so if this is a feasible option, empower them to do this. There are obviously some roles where this isn’t possible – like a surgeon – but most office-based roles could realistically work from home on a part or full-time basis.

Others prefer to be in an office environment for a number of reasons, like collaborating with colleagues or a sense of camaraderie, and that’s fine. Some of those colleagues, for example salespeople that are often on-site with customers, could benefit from spending time in a co-working space.

Sometimes, a co-working space might be a better travel option for those people who don’t live near your office; and it could help public transport users who enjoy being in an office but are facing increasingly unreliable services. Bad weather stopping your colleagues even getting out of their house? Take a leaf out of my teammate Katy’s book and work from home – even on your iPhone! – again, thanks to these technologies.

The way we work continues to evolve at an incredible pace, and perhaps one day we’ll no longer need offices, choosing to telecommute and take part in virtual meetings instead. But don’t hand the keys to your office back just yet; instead, consider how you can meet your employee and business needs through a number of options including an office base (or multiple bases), home-working options and even co-working spaces.

The most important element is that your customers’ experience doesn’t diminish; but as customers demand that you be available anytime, anywhere, flexible working can actually help you to meet their needs and set your business apart from the competition.

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