Building owners, business owners, and managers seeking the best use of space and increased employee productivity are considering coworking spaces and flex offices. The concept is that workstations that aren’t used 100% of the day can be put to better use. In fact, some data has shown that up to 40% of a desk goes unused. This is due to a more mobile workforce – those employees out in the field, working remotely, taking time off, or in meetings away from their desks frequently.
So, what’s the answer? Shared desks, more comfortable (and collaborative) seating arrangements, and tucked away work areas. With the extra space these options offer, some may choose to use the additional floor space for fitness centers, meeting rooms, meditation rooms, game centers, day care- just to name a few, all to benefit the employee in a creative and supportive way.
It seems coworking space and flex offices are not only here to stay, they are growing. According to research from Deskmag’s 2018 Global Coworking Survey, there was an over 1100% increase in coworking space, and coworking members are expected to increase another 325% in the next 3 years. And this trend will be captured by business owners wanting to recreate the benefits for their own employees.
What Works in the Flex Office Concept?
Engagement. Deskmag’s survey found 84% of employees felt more engaged in a coworking space.
Happiness. Nearly 90% said they felt happier in shared space as well.
Support. 80% of employees said they felt more supported by their peers.
Savings. Fewer desks and better optimized space increases productivity and lowers costs.
Employee Flexibility. Nomadic, technology focused generations don’t like being tied to a desk, and this arrangement allows for greater flexibility to work in the conditions most conducive for work. It can also allow for more technology connectivity and remote work staff for additional savings/employee satisfaction.
Space Flexibility. Flex space allows a business to adjust space-usefulness without having to relocate. Build outs/remodeling or even rearranging allows the company to be agile in their space for changing needs as they grow.
Challenges of Flex Space
Security. Bring-your-own devices can allow for cost savings, but may become a challenge for maintaining company and/or client confidentiality. Some spaces allow devices to be “checked out” using secure asset protection lockers for staff to keep important equipment and data protected.
Potential Solution: Implement asset protection lockers for use only onsite, during specific hours and/or only accessible to specific people.
Lack of Personalization. When offices or desks aren’t assigned, the comfort of familiarity can become a distraction and even anxiety inducing. People like to have a picture of their pet or loved ones on their desk to bring them joy and coworking space isn’t designed for that personalization.
Potential Solution: Consider creative solutions such as cork boards and pins, rehangable photo frames, featured employee profiles, or more.
Theft. An “office in a bag” allows for easy theft. Without places to lock up and store valuables, workers may feel unnecessarily vulnerable. They may need to carry valuables with them or leave them at home, rather than risk theft in a shared space.
Potential Solution: Use secure electronic lockers to give employees space for stashing valuables such as electronics, purse/wallet, and more.
Irregular work hours. Sometimes the flexibility that coworking allows means irregular work hours. This can make management and collaboration difficult to coordinate. It can also mean more employees doing work before or after normal work hours, making time-tracking hard to manage.
Potential Solution: Use programs only on organization equipment or only allow logins during certain hours. Create systems for communication for meeting organization and evaluations.
Flex office space can be used and maximized in a number of ways to create more flexibility, agility and productivity. However, being proactive about potential challenges is critical to ensure safety and reduce potential legal black holes or even negative results.