By Sharina Ahmad
INTERNATIONAL Workplace Group (IWG) has revealed that eight out of 10 workers around the world would turn down a job that does not offer the option to choose and change their workplace location.
According to IWG’s Global Workspace Survey, in the past 10 years 85% of businesses have introduced flexible workspace policies, or are planning to adopt one.
IWG country head of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Vijayakumar Tangarasan said: “The adoption of flexible workspace globally looks set to continue apace, and we’re also seeing evidence of this demand in Malaysia.
“In 2018, flexible workspace in Kuala Lumpur grew by 36%, making it the fastest-growing key city in the Asia Pacific (APAC). If data alone is not enough to urge businesses to embrace this new workplace revolution, perhaps clearing the air around some common myths surrounding flexible workspaces would be enough to assuage them,” he said in the statement.
Aside from the bespoke amenities and community events, the touted business benefits of flexible workspaces range from reduced risk, the ability to scale up and down reactively, and most importantly, allow businesses to introduce flexible workplace policies among their employees, Vijayakumar adds.
While these stereotypes of flexible workspaces or coworking spaces are not unfounded, they obscure and diminish the main benefits and reasons why a significant part of the workforce prefer these types of working environments.
Below are five myths about flexible workspaces to some groups such as young freelancers, entrepreneurs and start-up founders.
Myth 1: Flexible workspaces are only for millennials
Millennials are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce and will eventually make up the largest portion of it in certain countries. The flexible and collaborative nature of flexible workspaces attracts a generation that is tech-savvy and ambitious, as well as autonomy and disruptive innovation, which is why many associate coworking spaces with millennials.
However, IWG’s survey found that flexible working promotes the inclusion of groups that struggle to balance personal and work life such as personal carers, people with mental health issues such as depression, or older workers. Driven by the advancing technology and better connectivity flexible working allows people of all ages and backgrounds to work remotely.
Myth 2: There is no privacy in flexible workspaces
An open, buzzing and collaborative coworking area is often pictured when one mentions flexible workspaces, but there is more to space than meets the eye.
When looking at how flexible workspaces can fit into a company’s overall strategy, it is also important to remember that these office spaces can be tailored to a business’ needs, which means that they are completely customisable and, in effect, allow businesses to design their own office without incurring the heavy costs typically involved in purchasing permanent commercial property.
Having the ability to customise flexible workspaces allows businesses to design their offices in a way that offers maximum efficiency, is consistent with the company’s wider branding and marketing messages and provides the desired level of privacy while remaining part of the coworking space community.
Myth 3: Multinational corporations will never need it
The cost-saving benefits of flexible workspaces may seem to only pertain to freelancers, start-ups and SMEs, but when a large and established business intends to expand into a different country, flexible workspaces can be a cost-effective alternative to investing in a permanent office space, which may have to be sold again if it does not work out.
Choosing flexible workspaces allows businesses to sign and extend contracts, and to end them if required. This way, flexible workspaces help even multinationals to achieve their strategic objectives, whilst also reducing the costs associated with growth and expansion.
Myth 4: People are only there for the free coffee
In some flexible workspaces, the stellar coffee and other amenities may be a highlight of their tenants’ day, but there is a greater purpose of serving coffee in the pantry. Coffee, tea, and water cooler play an important role in creating conversations and building networks among the different businesses in the workplace. Placing the amenities in a central area ensures that people have increased opportunities to meet others when you are getting your coffee fix.
This space allows for ‘water cooler chats’ to happen, where a passing remark about the weather or the morning rush could lead to a deeper conversation or even the birth of a new idea. In a flexible workspace built on collaboration, creativity is amplified because people are speaking to fellow creatives, not simply from within their own business.
Myth 5: Flexible workspaces are like normal offices, just prettier
The aesthetics of a flexible workspace is one of its key elements, and rightly so because there is intent and meaning behind each workspace design. Studies have shown that exposure to blues and greens can boost creativity, while red improves performance on tasks that require attention to detail.
Even furniture should not be left to chance. An environment with curved lines – such as circular tables in a meeting room, or desks with smooth corners – is linked with positive emotions, which aid creativity and productivity.
Flexible workspaces offer a diverse range of work settings, including individual office rooms, meeting booths, communal tables, reading tables, think tanks, phone booths and meeting rooms, all of which allows for more movement and options for employees who work better in selected environments.
As flexible workspaces become more prevalent in today’s business world, it’s important to take note of the fact that it is not just the short leases that make them a favourable choice of office space. The flexibility offered goes far beyond this and provides many different benefits, touching all parts of a business, from marketing and finance to overall strategy and crisis management. – March 5, 2020