Just 5% of corporate real estate today offers flexible spaces for co-working, incubators, etc. However, JLL, a global real estate services firm is predicting that by 2030, this figure will skyrocket to 30%.
Why is this trend significant for HR professionals and hiring managers?
Because it reflects just how quickly today’s employee expectations have transformed from what used to be the status quo of always commuting to one fixed office space, to a new must-have mobile and flexible work-from-anywhere(WFA) model.
New Harvard data supports this trend as well. Their findings, just released last month, suggest (as quoted in Inc.com), “It’s time to let employees work from anywhere.”
This model is more ubiquitous than we may initially think. Benefits Canada reports that nearly half of all Canadians (47%) work remotely for half a week or more. And we’re not far behind on the global scale:Regus research found 54% of employees worldwide spend half their week working somewhere other than their company’s main office as well.
Now, the vernacular used here is important. This is not just about working from home in the traditional sense. It is about embracing a “location-agnostic” philosophy and offering a wide array of working options to suit different employee preferences and life needs (ergo the rapid rise of flexible working spaces).
Interestingly Regus’ research found, 54% of Canadians reported working remotely while travelling to and from meetings during the day within a city, or even in between cities in order to maximize productivity. Working from anywhere in such instances could mean: various coffee shops, business centres, co-working spaces or even a vehicle.
When it comes to co-working, Harvard discovered an interesting business benefit: Their WFA research subjects’ productivity increased even more when employees were working within a 40km radius of fellow workers. Researchers believe this proximity helps people learn from each other in a more informal manner.
Because we speak to employers, HR professionals, and candidates every day, we have a unique vantage point – being able to see both sides of a coin on many hiring issues. On that note, here are some tips that HR/hiring managers can consider to attract top talent:
- Don’t make work-from-anywhere perks your best-kept secret: Surprisingly, many companies don’t mention this flexibility from the get-go in their hiring processes. As recruiters, we sometimes have to specifically ask about this. Many jobseekers, in contrast, are looking intentionally for this perk at the top of their list as they consider applying for positions.
- Know that many candidates will turn down jobs that don’t offer flexibility:Companies who are not willing to be flexible with work-from-anywhere arrangements should be prepared to lose great candidates. We’ve seen this happen too many times. The talent is about to sign an offer. They ask about work-from-anywhere flexibilities and learn it’s not available.So they promptly turn down the offer.
- Position work-from-anywhere as a perk (don’t make it permanent in an employee agreement): This simply gives you, as the employer, the ability to take back the perk if you find productivity is dwindling. The #1 motivator for employees to work remotely however, is to be more focused and productive (not having a commute came in after that as reason #2). And let’s be honest, if an employee is not productive remotely, there’s a good chance they may not be productive at the office either. For the record, many research studies including the new Harvard data show that most employees are more productive when they have the flexibility to be able to work remotely.
- Make security of data a top priority: For many organizations, sensitive files and security breaches are a top concern. In such instances, we’ve seen employers provide their own tools, equipment, VPNs and fire walls, to enable employees to work remotely. It comes with added costs of course, but increased productivity and employee retention make those investments worthwhile.
As Richard Branson so aptly put it: “Whether you’re in a hammock or a hotel, an office or an igloo, work and play from anywhere.” This is the new mindset for much of today’s workforce.
We believe it is an exciting one, that is also better for business.