As we move ahead with flexible and hybrid work models, office spaces are bound to undergo changes that will impact business operations as well as company culture. A number of employees across industry segments are expressing an appetite to return to the office at least for 2-3 days a week. After all, apart from essential infrastructure and services, the intangible value derived from an office vibe can rarely be mimicked at home.
Today’s workforce expects a culture that is diverse and inclusive. A sense of “community” and a healthy work culture becomes imperative to attract, engage and retain talent. Flexible workspaces offer its members the benefit of networking and collaborating. Some of the best business ideas happen over a conversation, when one feels inspired in a beautiful workspace and where ideas flow freely. Additionally, with multiple locations in every city, the advantage that flexible workspaces offer is expanding the talent pool, and enabling businesses to hire from anywhere and retain talent successfully.
Equal opportunity for women in the workplace
With work moving home over the last few months, women are finding themselves walking the tightrope between their familial and professional commitments. Some women have had to make the difficult choice of leaving their jobs or taking a career break. Flexible workspaces will restore a sense of routine, balance and a safe, personal space for many working women. In order to continue supporting women in the workplace, options like work near home, or work from anywhere may ease their burden and restore boundaries.
Increased creativity = better business strategy
When a team composed of members from diverse backgrounds come together, we discover fresh and out-of-the-box perspectives to problems. In these evolving times when businesses are forced to refresh their models and strategies, whiteboard discussions or brainstorming proves to be very valuable. Working in a diverse team fuels creativity, enhances teamwork, challenges individuals to question their assumptions and thinking. This sort of healthy conflict brings out the best version in talent.
Faster problem solving
It is said that teams of cognitively diverse individuals approach and solve problems much faster due to newer ways of thinking. The norm in organisations is that leaders and managers may unconsciously gravitate towards those with like-minded thinking, the “similar to me” bias plays out, and most often we end up hiring people with a similar mindset. When such teams face complex problems or unseen situations, their ability to innovate and come up with disruptive solutions is limited. This can be facilitated by hiring talent from varied backgrounds, geographies and cultures. Flexible workspaces can provide that common platform to connect and collaborate.
Important factors that make people want to return to the office are the affiliation and engagement opportunities that flexible workspaces offer. The main driver that fosters engagement is the feeling of being included—included in all conversations and decisions that matter. Workplace inclusion holds the key to creating a positive office energy, improving productivity and overall employee well-being, apart from driving up engagement. It boosts employee morale by creating a culture of psychological safety where each individual feels valued. We can safely say that improved engagement is an outcome of diversity and inclusion.
Employee retention and attraction
Flexible workspaces become an essential magnet for top talent from diverse backgrounds. Happy and engaged employees become advocates of the employer's brand with the wider ecosystem, and helps create a reputation for the business as being an employer of choice. Being a part of a diverse workforce helps gain unique insights about an organisation’s diverse customer base, and ultimately improves customer empathy and experience, as well as company performance.
It’s clear that flexible workspaces can provide a conducive environment to help organisations stay focused on what’s important—the wellbeing of employees, health and prosperity of the business, and a thriving and vibrant company culture.
Views are personal. The author is head of people, WeWork India.