The Evolution of The Flexible Workspace and Its Future
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Flexible workspaces aren't new. They have been around for quite some time. Still, more companies are offering better opportunities in the latest years due to the generational change and the new changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the way we live and the work industry.
Although the flexible work model and hybrid working have been used as synonyms multiple times, both options are highly different. For example, a hybrid workforce implies having employees that work remotely and on-site peers simultaneously. In contrast, flexible work arrangements include other factors, such as the availability of booking desks or rooms if the organizational model is, for instance, office hoteling and even choosing when to work.
The flexible work model is more compatible with the millennial and centennial generations as they are demanding opportunities that can be accustomed to their lifestyles. People are not going through the same thing as two decades ago, the world has changed greatly, but that’s something that many employers are reluctant to understand.
Workplaces have changed a lot in the latest decades
Over the years, we all have been witnesses to how workplaces evolved and changed. For instance, people previously were in constant movement only to complete practical tasks, while now it is possible to complete some of the same tasks while sitting on your desk.
Furthermore, the new flexible workspace solutions encourage collaboration. People are now looking forward to having new environments where they can keep up with their obligations more efficiently. This situation led to creating concepts like coworking space or remote working, also known as "telecommuting."
Before we start diving more into the evolution of the flexible workspace, let’s learn a bit more about its definition.
What is a flexible workspace?
Essentially, a flexible workspace is an organizational model that agglomerates creative desk and workstation layouts where people can work freely in their activities during diverse schedules. People can choose when and where to work, and some companies even offer remote working opportunities for certain positions.
There isn’t a single definition for a flexible working model. Even if there isn't a single definition for it, each workplace adapts the concept to their company's needs, allowing them to use the aspects that best adapt to their organization and its values.
Flexible workspace types
Even if we are aware of all the flexible workspace benefits, there are tons of options that companies take into consideration before implementing it to its fullest. Here we mention some organizational models that are considered sub-types of flexible workspaces:
- Hot-desking: It's mainly used by big enterprises. People come to the office, look for an available desk and start working. But, unfortunately, there aren't any fixed desks.
- Office hoteling: It is the other side of the coin if we compare it to hot-desking. In this organizational model, people use a computer program to book a desk at a certain time. Certain workplaces also allow booking conference rooms, phone booths, and any other common area the employees can use.
- Open offices: It is a space where people work together inside the same flexible workspace. All departments and teams coexist in the same area – although there may be distinctions in case a particular group is working on a determined project, and so on.
- Collaborative coworking spaces: Coworking spaces have become quite popular in recent years. In these spaces, people that don’t work together share the same space. People have access to it at any hour.
- Shared workspaces: Shared workspaces are similar to coworking spaces in essence. However, instead of remaining static, different people will occupy space when their shift is over. Thus, the occupants are "dynamic."
About coworking spaces and shared workspaces
These workspaces have been growing rapidly in the latest years, especially since millennials have been taking over the industry.
According to a survey conducted by Clutch in 2019, what employees value the most is an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable workplace. On the other hand, the other appreciated factors include (in order) flexibility, a positive community, special perks, and facilities that allow them to learn efficiently.
Coworking spaces and shared workspaces comply with most of these factors. Most people adopt these offices into spaces where the entrance of natural light is enhanced, plus distinctive desk arrangements. Furthermore, as you’re constantly in contact with other people, it will be easier for you to feel less isolated and become more productive.
No matter what angle you see it from, every person gets a benefit from these flexible workspaces.
How did coworking begin?
Coworking is a concept that first appeared in 1966, even if the term was first conceived in 1999 by Bernard DeKoven, a game designer based in the USA. However, since the introduction of the internet, the workforce has experienced meaningful changes as more work opportunities have appeared.
Let's take into account what has happened in recent years. Then, we can conclude that the flexible workspace has become so popular because of the multiple benefits it has for both the companies and employees, including freelancers.
Where is this organizational model going?
The workforce only keeps evolving. In COVID-19 times, people got used to working remotely, which is why some of them are quitting their jobs instead of returning to the office as they realized they do better while working remotely instead of at the headquarters.
The future of flexible workspaces is uncertain, as the concept only keeps expanding and continues to offer even more perks to the workforce and companies in general. According to statistics, shared workspaces have increased by 200% in the last few years. This immense rate doesn't seem to stop in recent months.
As the industry continues evolving and people start making their demands visible, it is quite possible that we reach a more balanced point where people get to work how and where they want without problems in a way that benefits both the company and their person.
Traditional workplaces are disappearing due to the rigid norms that people are unwilling to keep up with anymore and the multiple changes in our lifestyle.
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