Businesses coming out of the global pandemic provide a catalyst for the need to rethink the arrangement of office spaces and consider alternative workplaces. Currently, changing the location and the way people are working is normal.
Key points to remember
- Traditional workspaces are becoming outdated and employees are seeking more flexibility.
- In order to foster increased productivity and maintain current employees, some alternative workplaces must be considered.
- There are plenty of different examples to engage alternative workspaces in including hotdesking, co-working or remote working.
How do alternative workplaces differ from traditional approaches?
Traditional workplaces tend to be physical office spaces where employees have designated working locations, sometimes separated from other departments and coworkers. By transitioning to a non-traditional workspace, you can offer flexibility and choice as to where employees decide to work for the day. Alternative workplaces aim to move the work to the employee and in return provides flexibility.
Examples of alternative workplaces
There is a range of different methods which can be utilised by companies to foster flexible arrangements. Examples can include the following:
- Working from home/remote work – allowing employees to work from home or at other locations as they wish. These employees often report to the office on a periodic basis.
- Co-working – giving employees the option to work together on tasks and seek perspectives from different departments.
- Desk sharing – where employees share a table or workstations.
- Hot desking/hotelling – employees can choose to set up their workstation at a different location in the office each day.
- Flexible work arrangements – employees can choose different times of work and set their own individual schedules.
- BYOG – employees can bring their own gadgets or personal equipment to work and utilise these technologies to complete tasks.
- Satellite offices – for employees to reduce commute travel time and work at different locations.
Why should employers consider alternative workplaces?
As the generations evolve and opportunities become easier to access, attitudes to traditional workspaces will change. Approximately 50% of millennials and 42% of Generation Z’s (which are the emerging workforce) have ‘side hustles’ that provide them with an extra source of income. Therefore, although they are hard workers, they have their focus spread across multiple areas. This emerging workforce values flexibility and balance, therefore a workplace that facilitates and empowers this will be the most appealing to employees. If employees are feeling more supported and happier in their workplace, then businesses will be more likely to have a higher employee retention rate and a higher output of work.
The majority of employees do not prefer a regular 9-5 workday in an office environment where they are disconnected from their coworkers and their regular lives. Most employees are capable of working in a remote environment and will sometimes even be able to complete their tasks quicker due to a decrease in distractions.
As an employer, I’m unsure whether I should give employees the freedom to work flexibly, what are the key benefits?
Workplaces which are alternative in nature are likely to foster many benefits for both the employer and employees. Increased productivity is one of the main reasons employers allow for flexible working arrangements. Productivity is enhanced due to allowing employees the opportunity to reset, take a different approach and have the freedom to handle work on their own time. This alludes to the need for a work-life balance that fosters focus and achievement at work.
Next, it allows employers to have the capability to secure more diverse talent without being restricted to their locality, as sometimes the best candidates may be unable to relocate, so allowing them to work remotely is beneficial to all parties. Lastly, costs can be lowered due to a less rigorous demand for a structured workspace. Office sizes can be cut down if a coworking or hotdesking structure is utilised to reduce the need of private offices. Also, because employees are given the freedom to decide to work remotely if they choose to, it results in an increased level of productivity which will in turn be beneficial to the company as well.
How can employers transform the current workplace?
An employer can transform their current structure by seeking input from their employees to satisfy their needs. An employer may allow different employees to work in the same space if they have rotating schedules. Another way to transform the current workspace is by choosing to conduct an open floor plan which allows for shared working stations and more communal spaces.
Are there any issues evident with alternative workplaces?
It is important to acknowledge that some employees may have transitioning problems as some alternatives may not adequately align with their needs or the demands of future employees. Hence, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the implementation of alternative working arrangements. It can also be difficult to manage disorganisation on a daily basis when working at different locations or remotely. However, online scheduling and calendar software along with designated in-office meetings and zoom catch-ups can assist in resolving this issue.
Ultimately, an alternative arrangement can be discussed between an employer and employee to suit each individual’s busy life. Employers must recognise that work is not the sole responsibility of an employee’s day-to-day life, and accommodations should be made where possible. The new norm is gradually adapting to provide alternative work arrangements and human-centered approaches instead of basing the workplace strictly on the company’s needs.
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