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The possibility to work from home is not enough anymore

Written by Lien Ponnet on 29 November 2022 for Clients

What you need today to attract and retain talent is a hybrid working policy. This isn’t news to you. But did you know that, in order to be competitive, you need to offer more than the mere opportunity to work from home? Say hello to the age of the hub!

It wasn’t so long ago that every work day was spent in the office. Then, a few years back, we discovered the joys of remote working. One day a week of hanging out in your comfy pants, no distractions, and not having to spend an hour in traffic each way – it was glorious. Until we were all forced to work from home fulltime, and quickly discovered the downsides of working from home. Most of us were glad to get out of the house again, but according to a recent survey, only 3% of employees are willing to return to the office fulltime. Hybrid working is the new new normal.

Location, location, location: the 3 H’s

So far, hybrid working has been organised around two main locations: the office (headquarters) and home. But this model has its flaws. The commute to the headquarters is often long (cutting into leisure time and thereby deteriorating work/life balance), and the open floor plan of most offices means a lot of distractions and interruptions as your employees struggle to get their work done.

On the other hand, working from home also has its limitations. When work life and personal life blend into one space, it’s harder to distinguish between the two and set boundaries. The presence of family members or children can be an assault on your employees’ focus, and feeling the pressure to be available around the clock is exhausting their mental and physical resources.

The answer? The third H: the hub. Local third-party work spaces close to employees’ homes are an ideal solution when home is too crowded and the office too far away. In these hubs, your workers can concentrate and meet with colleagues, without having to travel long distances. This gives them flexibility and autonomy, which will improve their feelings of belonging and engagement.

3 ways in which hubs increase well-being

  1. Battling the burn-out epidemic
    Did you know that, according a to a recent survey, one in seven workers in Flanders is currently on the brink of burn-out? Working from home blurs the boundaries between work and private life, while digital tools have us in a constant state of alert. Coworking spaces are powerful to increase worker well-being and motivation. By going to another space to work, employees are more likely to adhere to more normal working hours. Having to pack up your computer and go home – even if it’s only five minutes away – helps to mentally end the working day and start the leisure/family time.
  2. Solving mobility issues
    Another critical issue for employee well-being – and for the future of the entire planet – is mobility. The distance between home and the company has become one of the main reasons why people quit their jobs. A coworking space close to home notably reduces the time spent on the road, and might even be reached by bicycle, which is better for the planet and keeps your employees fit.
  3. A sign of trust
    By offering your employees the possibility to work outside of the office, you show them that you trust them and that their well-being is central to your model. Workers who feel trusted show more engagement and feelings of belonging, both of which are important for recruiting and retaining talent.

 

The changing role of the office

The office is no longer the place we go to spend all our work days and where we perform all our tasks, from answering e-mails to participating in team meetings. With activity-based working, employees get to choose the working environment that best fits their needs for the specific task at hand. This isn’t only better for their happiness and well-being, it also makes them more productive and efficient.

For example:

  • Brainstorms work best in the office, when everybody is present in person
  • Certain meetings can be held in virtual meeting rooms, accessible from anywhere
  • For focused work, it’s best to work alone, without distractions
  • Administrative tasks which require less concentration are more fun in a place where we can have a chat with co-workers

Hybrid work environments provide access to appropriate work places for all four of these modes of collaboration. This means that the main role of the office now is a social one: it’s a place where we connect with our colleagues, a place for exchanging information and sharing in teams.

According to Xwork, third-party work spaces have a dual advantage over working from home: increased concentration (less distraction from children and family members, household chores, etc.) as well as sharing work with others (having one or two colleagues in the same space can help to ward off feelings of isolation). As additional advantages over working in the office, hubs tend to be less crowded (which means fewer distractions and interruptions), and the commute is much shorter.

Good example: Deliverect

In September of 2021, the Belgian foodtech scale-up Deliverect opened their new headquarters in Ghent. “Less than half of the total surface of the building is furnished as classic working space,” says Deliverect CTO Jan Hollez. “Our goal with the new offices is to stimulate teamwork for maximum creativity. We’ve got a large auditorium, flexible meeting rooms, a barista bar and a beautiful rooftop bar. The idea is to make the office an inspirational place to meet colleagues, encourage collaboration and boost creativity.”

Meeting generational needs

Generations Y and Z, especially the under-30s, are the ones most affected by the shortcomings of homeworking:

  • They don’t always have a designated working space at home, where they can focus
  • They’re more likely to have young children in the house
  • They find it more difficult than older workers to separate private life from work life
  • They have a greater need to meet with their colleagues
  • They value a full life outside of work more than older workers used to

According to the Xwork survey, 75% of the under-30s believe that working in a coworking space helps them to feel better at the end of the day, compared to when working from home. 90% of participants aged under 30 say that adding third-party premises to their organisation of work enables them to have a better work/life balance. Keeping in mind that by 2025, Gen Y and Z combined will make up around 75% of the workforce, it becomes clear that considering these generations’ needs and preferences should be central in your recruitment strategy.

Conclusion

Adding third-party coworking spaces to the possible locations to do work, gives your employees an alternative to working from home, while also providing a solution to long commutes to the office. To attract and retain talent in the current climate, it is important to go the extra mile. Showing your employees that you care about their health and well-being by adding hubs to your organisation of work, can be a powerful way to set your company apart from the competition.

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We bring tech talent into the daily operations of the organisation of our customers and grow them for the innovations of tomorrow.

From the 1.500 tech talents we speak to annually, we select the top 7%. We intensively train and coach them on the right skills and competences. Our (scientifically based) training programs (Start Smart, Grow Smart & Lead Smart) accelerate the growth of our talents, and therefore also the growth of our customers.

We “unburden” our clients when looking for and retaining tech talent. We are committed to getting the best out of talent, while our customers can continue to focus on their core business.

We do this for organisations who want to strengthen their team permanently, as well as those who are looking for a flexible, project-driven solution. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help.