Flexible working is not a new phenomenon. However, as a result of the pandemic, organisations are reconfiguring, redesigning, and re-imagining their workspaces.
Growing dissatisfaction with workplace practises post-Covid-19 has led to what has been dubbed as ‘The Great Resignation’. The term refers to the number of employees who are considering leaving their current job, as they re-evaluate their priorities, consider work-life balance and deliberate career advancement opportunities. The pandemic resulted in most office workers having to work from home, providing them with a new sense of flexibility in their working lives. It’s now clear that employees don’t want to let go of that flexibility and freedom going forward.
There has been a seismic shift in how people work, and talent landscapes are changing. Hiring software company Greenhouse revealed that 60% of the Irish cohort included in their survey said they would like to move jobs within the next six months. It’s an employee’s market, and without providing employees with flexible working conditions, organisations will find it hard to retain staff if they aren’t willing to adapt and make changes.
Talent Shortages are On The Rise
Organisations are under immense pressure to adapt their workspaces and re-imagine how they function as a business. IDA Ireland’s Labour Market Pulse report found that almost one in every 5 jobs posted on LinkedIn last quarter offered flexible and hybrid options, a rise from one in seven job postings previously.
With nearly 7 in 10 (69%) companies having reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring in 2021, CNBC warns that economists expect the war for talent to continue, as employers try to battle turnover and attract new workers. Larger companies that have the resources to offer more pay, better benefits, flexible working, and job stability are coming out on top.
Face to Face Interaction
We’ve established that employees are craving greater flexibility in their working lives with remote working on the increase. A recent Microsoft survey found that post-pandemic, over 70% of employees want more flexible remote options, yet 65% crave more in-person time with their teams. Furthermore, an annual employee survey from global recruiter Robert Walters, revealed that two out of three Irish professionals have said that they are “highly likely” to leave their job this year due to a lack of face time with leaders within their organisation. So, although flexible working is still at the forefront of employee demands, there is still a need for real human and social connections in the workplace.
Technology has proven incredibly helpful in streamlining communication, particularly throughout the pandemic, but is it enough? Communicating through the likes of Zoom enables us to see each other’s faces, yes, but we are restricted on reading nonverbal cues, as well as being limited by technical issues, delays, and mute buttons. Tech fatigue is a real issue that can leave employees feeling drained each day. Having in-person interaction within the workspace can cut down on screen time, improve communication, increase engagement, as well as enhance overall physical and emotional health.
It’s clear that a balance needs to be struck between giving employees this flexibility to work remotely and allowing time to meet with employees on a more personal and face to face basis.
Shrinking networks are threatening innovation. Data observed from both Microsoft and employee engagement platform Time is Ltd. found that workers are communicating with fewer people at work outside their direct teams, as a result of remote working.
Flexible workspaces can facilitate the natural moments where employees bump into each other in the office, chat about common interests, build trust and spark creative conversations. It can allow for networking opportunities and can facilitate conversations that may not happen in the virtual world.
Studies show that employees who work remotely have fewer friends at work and thus have weaker social and emotional connections with their co-workers. Weaker social connections mean that employees don’t feel the social pull or emotional connection to their job, therefore making it easier for employees to quit. Without a physical space for employees to work from, organisational culture can be lost, which can damage employee retention.
If an organisation lacks culture, employees may feel as if they don’t belong. Flexible workspaces can provide your business with a destination for activities that could help instil company culture and strengthen the relationships between workers and their colleagues.
For some employees, the lines between work and home are too blurred. Remote work can become isolating, and you may not know where your workday ends and play begins. Offering a flexible workspace for employees can help to create a form of escapism. Flexible workspaces provide a place for employees to recharge their batteries, refuel their creative energies, and reconnect with fellow colleagues, before heading home at the end of the day, giving them a sense of clear balance and structure.
Many employees may be working from cramped apartments or sharing spaces with friends or family, meaning working remotely from home may not be the best option for everyone.
Research also suggests that the part of our brain that regulates motivation responds better to novelty than to familiarity. Flexible workspaces provide breakout spaces for deep work, quiet corners to take calls in and areas for employees to collaborate on projects together. This means employees have a variety of workspace and breakout space options to choose from, helping to keep them stimulated and engaged throughout the day and working week. Not only this, but a flexible workspace encourages networking and collaborative opportunities as you are surrounded by a community of like-minded professionals from a wide range of industries.
Can Flexible Workspaces Improve Employee Retention?
It’s clear that employees want face to face interaction with colleagues, places to meet with managers, and to feel part of a community, however, remote working also provides many benefits and will be here to stay for the majority of businesses. Evidently, the return to the office will not be linear, the working world is evolving, and organisations need to be open to flexibility and change.
One solution many businesses are adapting, is the hybrid working model. This means that employees work both remotely and from the office, having a select number of days each week between each workspace. This seems to provide the greatest sense of flexibility and balance that workers are so clearly craving.
Want to learn more about flexible workspaces and how they can optimise your business? Here at Iconic, we can help you incorporate a hybrid or flexible work model into your company structure, every step of the way. There’s no one size fits all solution, with private offices, coworking, or your own private coworking hub, we can find a flexible solution to meet your requirements.
Interested in learning more about Iconic Offices?
Talk to our team at Iconic Offices and discover how our flexible memberships can help your business retain your top talent and help your business reduce its operational costs. Our workspace specialists work with business of all industries and sizes and help them discover the perfect workspace solution.