The dynamics of work are constantly changing according to the social development of the zeitgeist and the demands of productivity. Above all, success depends on the people behind the work — human factors. Inevitably, the progress and advances of modern technology also play a massive role in setting the cultural trend of the time. For instance, the invention of the computer replaced mechanical typewriters, which in turn displaced hand copying and increased productivity, changed the dynamics of work, and even contributed towards the rise of white-collar and knowledge workers. Naturally, amidst the pressures of the global pandemic, the way we work and the dynamics of working culture has moved toward one that is more human-centric —taking into account the needs of the individual in the context of a team which in the grand scheme of things is the workforce of an individual company.
Work from anywhere
In the early stages of the pandemic, the popular belief was that the future of work was working-from-home, and indeed during the peak of the global pandemic, it did seem like a reality for most office workers. However, very quickly, we have seen many challenges to this arrangement, such as disruptions at home, difficulty setting boundaries, and feelings of isolation after a long period. The solution to this that is now being championed is the concept of work-from-anywhere as it encompasses remote working and flexible working arrangements. However, at The Executive Centre (TEC), we believe that for professionals to embrace the concept of “work-from-anywhere", they need a network of touchdown spaces accessible across central-business districts (where their clients and partners are) that matches the standards and excellence of work that they are in.
As productivity turns toward one measured by results and quality, rather than one based on time spent in the workplace, employees at all levels are empowered to make choices that affect their day-to-day operations and performance. Combined with the work-from-home arrangement, many top-level executives are reflecting on what resources their employees require in order to work well. While it is true that much of the work we do today can be achieved through steady connectivity and a portable computer or smartphone, some occasions demand a workspace, meeting room, or event space. Working-From-Anywhere is not so much about the 'where' as it is about the "what" resources one needs to do work well.
The home, the office, and the hybrid mode
Through COVID-19, corporations have had to shift their attention from pushing profits and revenue to one of retention and survival of their workforce. As a result, businesses have been forced to introspect and restructure their organizations for efficiencies throughout the pandemic, from dealing with uncertainties and the possibility of scaling back, to investing in resources for their teams to perform remotely. For the first time, even executives have been forced to work from home, and workplace changes have been made collectively instead of rules set by the hierarchy. With this humanistic approach to the future of work, the workplace is evolving to consider employee's well-being, access to resources, and even internet security and privacy.
With an emphasis on optimizing the agility, mobility, and reactivity of the workers, traditional industries and businesses have begun realizing the advantages of incorporating elements of flexible workspaces into their portfolios. By adopting remote work practices and flexible workspace solutions, companies gain contractual flexibility, which makes scaling up or down their business presence easier. Traditional leases typically have an inflexible lock-in period of 5-10 years, which causes expansion and relocation to be costly as there are often repercussions to breaking leases. Moreover, traditional leases only provide access to that one space which is also unfurnished and not serviced; this means more capital expenditure costs for businesses when growing and scaling back their footprint and inventory. For these reasons, flexible workspaces have provided corporates and workers with an option and cost-efficient pathway to accessing corporate real-estate stability without unattractive long-term lock-in leases. Moreover, flexible workspaces like TEC come fully serviced with a team of professional Engagement Associates to handle the front-of-house administration and operational costs of upkeeping a center and workspace.
Moreover, in terms of the professional development and retention of employees, it is always in the company's best interest to nurture talent and provide opportunities for mentorship, growth, and team building. For this, the office space will continue to be relevant. In many regards, opportunities for promotion are often dependent on recognition by peers and seniors. For junior workforce talent, which includes Millennials and Gen Z, it is at the office where their working habits, ethics, and conduct can be recognized. It is also at the office where they can receive mentorship and receive invaluable information for their professional development from their seniors, which is particularly pertinent in the early stages of their career path. These seemingly small interactions cannot be entirely replaced by technology as they are fundamental human interactions. So, while the dynamic of the workplace is changing, these aspects will remain essential to the future of work and why many organizations are looking toward hybrid work models as a corporate real estate solution.
How we navigated the pandemic
Unlike any other global economic crisis that we’ve faced in the last 27 years of doing business in Asia Pacific, COVID-19 has transformed the way we socially interact and conduct work. Success in the future of work inextricably demands businesses today to be sympathetic and compassionate to their clients as individuals, to teammates as colleagues, and businesses as networks of people as opposed to lucrative financial partnerships or deals. At TEC, we have always applied this through our signature "Members First" humanistic approach to business development. In many ways, it is a culture of constantly innovating and rethinking our products, services, and hospitality to find opportunities to do better.
When we saw that COVID-19 would mean office workers would be working-from-home more often (at least in the short term), we saw the opportunity to reimplement our services and resources to better support our members' access to their flexible workspace amenities, despite being physically unable to come into our Centres. We achieved this through holding open dialogue with our teammates across various functions such as our Engagement and Community Teams; and we quickly discovered the benefit to the members of our coworking, private office, and enterprise solution plans by extending the remote services. This led us to provide additional resources and training to re-skill our teammates, implement flexible working arrangements and policies that would help them better support our Members with services such as virtual meeting room set-up support services, call-handling, and mail handling assistance.
Beyond the teammates that are at the front lines of our day-to-day center operations, we also challenged our sales and business development teams to relook at their strategies as COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted the way the global workforce will socially interact. We provided our teammates with more internal training and webinar coaching, gave them more marketing and communication assistance as they may seek best practices to engage new prospects through telecommunication and social media channels, encouraged them to participate in mentoring programs to support their peers and gain more knowledge in anticipation for when the global economic situation turns around again.
We are navigating the pandemic with a commitment to retaining and uplifting our staff. Rather than simply waiting for better days to come, we are actively challenging our teammates to reflect, audit, and propose solutions to hypothetical scenarios or future opportunities. We are listening to these suggestions, taking them on board, and consequently diversifying and strengthening the flexible workspace offerings we provide. We have formed more robust bonds with our teammates by providing them with the security and stability needed in these times of uncertainty. As a result, in the last year, we have grown from a pre-pandemic Community of 27,000 Members to a global network of over 32,000 Members.
And this success comes down to our humanistic and demand-driven approach to growth because we believe that when we invest in people, we will undoubtedly see a positive return. In many ways, the changing dynamics of work is also shifting toward this compassionate human-centric approach, after all, a stronger and more united workforce provides organizations with more agility to scale, capacity to be flexible and reactive, which means more business resiliency no matter what the future holds for us all.