Business support organisation Locate East Sussex explores how post-pandemic businesses are adapting to a ‘new normal’ of hybrid working, resulting in the increase in popularity of managed and co-working spaces
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was reported that of the 32.6 million people in employment, 5% were working mainly from home and 12% were adopting a hybrid model. These figures were already rising, but in March 2020 the jump increased drastically as lockdowns and restrictions came into force that made large offices unavailable for work.
This new regime had mixed opinions, with some enjoying the quiet, comfort and flexibility that came with being at home, alongside the added benefit of reduced travel time. For some however, working from home full time resulted in feeling isolated, unmotivated, and suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’.
The University of Sussex, working alongside East Sussex County Council and partner organisations, conducted a project titled ‘Working Well from Home’ in May 2021, to analyse the impact of homeworking on both employees and employers, looking at elements such as productivity, environment, and mental health. Their findings concluded that, with adequate technology and
good team management, a mixed approach between office and home was favoured, with 61% of its 263 surveyed respondents supporting a hybrid approach.
So what does this hybrid approach mean for businesses?
Adopting a hybrid approach is an opportunity for businesses to look at overhead costs, and assess business space to establish if downsizing could be an option. For London-based offices with a southern-based workforce, it has meant considering smaller satellite offices at key locations, based close to commuter lines and employees’ home.
On the whole, what hybrid working has most definitely changed for business is the rise in popularity of co-working spaces, managed workspaces and business centres.
Co-working spaces offer a welcome change of scenery for those working from home on a more permanent basis, providing a stimulating working environment, community of like-minded individuals and all of the technology needed to provide a professional service. Co-working pre-pandemic was already on the rise, with analysts predicting five million people to be using co-working spaces by 2024
In East Sussex, co-working spaces have been popping up across the county, ready to support the increased demand. These include spaces like The Hive in Flimwell, Cohub in Eastbourne, and Rock House in Hastings.
The CIPD ‘Embedding new ways of working’ report (September 2020) conducted a survey of 1,000 employers, and reported 40% of employers are expecting more than half of their workforce to work at least a part of the week from home. A switch to a hybrid working model has many looking at downsizing their existing space. Those seeking a more permanent work space than co-working might consider a managed workspace, or business centre. Using this as your base provides all of the comforts of having your own office with the added benefit of communal spaces for networking, a professional postal address and a team who are there to ensure the building is safe, secure and maintained.
These spaces are often modern, well designed, suitable for a variety of uses, and benefit from flexible terms, regular events and the ability to scale up or down as you grow and develop.