The landscape of business has changed, and it’s looking more and more like it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Back in March, we were devastated to see many of our fantastic clients pack up their things after being ordered to work from home – and then when they gradually started to return in June, we welcomed them back with open arms.
As the pandemic rumbles on, many businesses still have employees working from home. While this is, quite rightly, in line with government guidance, it can present an operational headache for managers.
As the North’s independent leading flex space provider with almost 20 years’ experience, BusinessLodge wanted to help the business community- after all we’re all in this together. Through in-depth discussions with organisations across Stoke and Bury, we’ve enhanced our services with a fantastic new offering …
Welcome to collaborative co-working.
In response to overwhelming demand, we’ve started to offer Covid-safe working space in both of our high spec business centres for businesses to rent out for the day – or even by the hour. Our new scheme offers companies and workers the opportunity to come together and work in a safe, professional business environment.
Our new service is already proving popular, and our space is being used for a variety of reasons:
Homeworking has many benefits – but there are also the downsides. It can be lonely and isolating. It can be difficult to separate your work schedule from the day to day drudgery of family and household chores. It’s all too easy to nip away from the laptop to “just pop on a quick wash” or catch up on your paperwork. In addition, the to-do list left by family can end up making greater demands on your time than you need.
From a practical perspective, well-designed workspaces are created to facilitate productivity. On an ongoing basis, working in the box room of your house at a battered old desk whilst sitting on a dilapidated kitchen chair just won’t do.
Team-work makes the dream work
While anything is possible, some businesses are built on employee collaboration. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams has proved a lifeline over recent months, but it’s not the same as being in the same room as colleagues – albeit socially distanced. Our working space gives businesses the chance to get key team members in a safe environment, whenever they require it, working effectively and productively.
A professional business environment – short term.
Our collaborative workspaces provide a professional working environment, with everything you need from internet and conference facilities to the all-important refreshments. The beauty is that businesses can replicate the environment they have back in the office – short term.
What’s more, with 20 years experience in providing flexible office space, this is what we do best. Our share workspace can be utilised by a single employee or a whole team, from an office to a conference room – whatever works for you we will endeavour to meet your requirements. For more information, please give us a call on:
BusinessLodge Bury & Stoke: Tel: 0330 024 9299 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leading business centre BusinessLodge has reported a surge in enquiries from businesses that are opting to move out of the city centre and relocate more locally.
The flex-space provider, with sites in Bury and Stoke, reports that in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, more and more organisations are rethinking their model, and relocation has become a crucial factor in strategic decision making.
Managing Director Kate Holt explains more:
“In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, we saw a surge in budding entrepreneurs setting up their own businesses and taking advantage of our Virtual Office facilities.
“More recently, we’ve had lots of interest from larger businesses who are based in City centres and are now looking to relocate closer to home, in centres like BusinessLodge.”
Kate believes that there are several factors that play a key role in businesses choosing to step away from city centre office blocks and relocate more locally – with travel being top of the list.
Many businesses traditionally choose offices based on their proximity to train stations and airports with public transport deemed a practical, economical and environmentally friendly way to travel.
“Post-lockdown, public transport is no longer as appealing as it once was. We’ve all seen the images of packed buses and trains, where compulsory face coverings are now the norm – and quite understandably, people are reluctant to take this option unless it is absolutely avoidable. While driving remains an option, city centre parking can be upwards of £25 a day for those who want to use their car – which can amount to a whopping £2,500 a year.”
Another key factor in the shift towards local offices is the reduction in commuting time. By basing the business closer to where employees live, travel time is cut right down, freeing up several hours a week that people can use more effectively, from spending time with family and friends to working out in on-site gyms. The research shows that this results in a happier, more productive workforce.
In addition, keeping local affords more opportunities to walk and cycle to work, healthier for both people and the environment.
“Times are uncertain, there is no doubt about that. Yet many businesses who are currently based in the city centre who are considering a move have their hands tied. This can be particularly difficult for organisations who have been forced to downsize their workforce over recent months. There is also the uncertainty of a relocation at this time and so a more flexible tenancy agreement can be extremely useful.”
BusinessLodge has an enviable reputation for providing top-end office facilities combined with exceptional customer service and a true community feel. It’s four unique buildings offer a development of high spec, contemporary serviced offices with a free gym, catering facilities and ample on-site car parking, and it easily accessible for commuters in both Stoke and Bury.
Kate Holts concludes:
“There’s no dispute that the world of work has changed beyond recognition over the past few months. Many businesses have suffered while others have thrived, and we are experiencing uncertainty like never before. At BusinessLodge, it’s at our very core to #lovewhereyouwork and as the current crisis unfold, we’re also finding that more and more businesses are choosing to #lovelocal – which is great news for Bury and Stoke and the local economy”.
We know it’s all a little crazy at the moment – and we understand that for some, the idea of a happy working environment might be a dim and distinct memory – for the moment at least.
However, on International Happiness at Work Week, Kate Holt, Managing Director of flex-office provider BusinessLodge, gives us a insight in to why more and more clients are desperate to get back to their desks – and the key elements that make for a happy working environment.
The British are a nation of grafters. On average, we spend 34 hours and 26 minutes a week at work, totalling a whopping total of 84, 365 hours over a lifetime. Given those stats, it goes without saying that our employment can have a considerable impact on our quality of life.
Ask most people what it takes for them to be happy at work and you can expect to hear points that include great terms and conditions, respect from colleagues, decent holiday and good rates of pay.
However, as the culture within the workplace changes, employers are starting to recognise that the working environment itself also has a significant effect on staff wellbeing – and that it pays to invest in this area.
The actual place that staff are working in should not be underestimated when it comes to keeping employees happy – it can make a huge difference.
Businesses are finally becoming savvy to this and it’s exactly why we exist– to provide a flexible, modern environment with a real sense of community.
Right now this is more important than ever. People are weary from working at home for months on end and are keen to get back onsite – for many reasons, of course taking all safety measures in to account.
With almost 20 years in the industry, Kate has given us an insight into the top things to consider when looking for business premises to help foster a contented workforce.
Location, location, location – and parking
You can have the most cutting edge, super shiny office in town – but if it’s inaccessible for your staff it’s a none-starter. People want to be able to get to their place of work easily – so choose somewhere on a good route.
Car parking is also a key consideration. Spaces are often at a premium and there is nothing more stressful than arriving for a busy day at work to find that you can’t get parked anywhere near your office.
During the current pandemic, this is truer than ever. We’re finding more and businesses are looking to move out of the city centre, to enable easier access for employees. What’s more, living closer to the office makes it easier to walk, cycle or even run to work, while avoiding public transport, particularly at the moment.
Natural Light is known to boost psychological wellbeing and a study by Loyola University found that people who work in sunlight have better short-term cognitive skills and are more productive than those working in more dimly lit areas. Not everyone has this luxury, so the next best option is soft, artificial light, plenty of plants and ensuring that staff take a regular break from their desks outside.
For those who are still working at home, make the most of the chance to get out in to outside space periodically.
The Colour Scheme
Colour psychology suggests the decor used in an office environment can have a dramatic impact on staff and visitors alike. These effects are subliminal and opinions are formed the moment the door is opened. Delving a little deeper, it makes perfect sense that the right colours can help make a happy workplace.
Green as an ideal colour for an open-plan office as it is ‘easy on the eye’ and induces feelings of calm. Plenty of green plants have a similar effect, as well as being great for air quality. Blue is also associated with calmness as well as thinking and problem-solving. Yellow, orange and red are said to be perfect for collaboration points, enhancing productivity and creativity.
A suitable desk-space is a fundamental requirement for any office worker and an ergonomic chair is another ‘must have’ to maximise comfort and minimise the risks of poor posture. Whether the layout is open-plan or more traditional, quality furniture really is an essential.
Additionally, the option to personalise our workspaces with photos and trinkets reaffirms our identities and can enhance our focus. Employees who have control over the layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier, they may also be as much as 32% more productive.
A sense of community
Humans are sociable creatures and everyone wants to be one of the gang. Building a sense of community in the workplace will make a huge difference to an employee’s wellbeing, even if you’re a one-man band. Kate Holt says:
“We’re incredibly proud of the strong community feel that we’ve built in BusinessLodge. In addition to the office space, we’ve designed our buildings to include lots of communal space, where people can meet up, network and socialise. “
As Co-working becomes increasingly popular, even smaller businesses can benefit from building their own community through shared space, building their network and working side-by-side with others from different industries. And after months of being separated, we’re finding that smaller businesses are desperate for the social intetaction.
Business opportunities aside, workers benefit from always having someone on hand to bounce ideas off, not to mention the social aspect.
Chill Out Zones
It’s essential that employees get time to relax, regroup and collect their thoughts. Chill-out zones are increasingly popular, and are now almost an expectation. Far from submitting to the temptation to linger longer than necessary in the tranquillity of these zones, they actually encourage workers to return to their desks, not only refreshed, but on time. After all, happy workers are up to 12% more productive than unhappy professionals, as a study by the University of Warwick concluded.
While some larger businesses might boast on-site slides and theme parks for staff use, these are likely to be the exception rather than the rule. However, given the benefits of exercise on both physical and mental health, an on-site gym provides the perfect wind-down opportunity at the end of a busy day without the need to leave the building to get there.
It’s clear then that our happiness at work is largely dependent upon our level of physical comfort and employers are increasingly waking up to that fact.
After all, it’s in their best interests to ensure that their workforce remains happy. In doing so, recruitment, satisfaction and retention of talent are bolstered and the risk of ‘brain drain’ is reduced. This sentiment is echoed in the words of Johnny Carson who said;
“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that… you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.”
The concept of co-working – the renting of desks in a shared space – has been popular in the US for some time.
Over recent years it’s also started to take the UK by storm, reflecting the changing nature of work culture.
BusinessLodge’s Trent House, a new flex-space in Stoke-on-Trent boasts a large, modern co-working area, which is already proving incredibly popular.
But just what do we mean by a co-working space? And who exactly is it for?
The term was coined by Brad Neuberg who started the space sharing movement in San Francisco in 2005. In a nutshell, this refers to a shared office space, popular with freelancers and start-ups, where a person can go to sit down at a desk and work among like-minded people in a structured atmosphere that fosters autonomy – without any of the workplace politics.
What exactly are the benefits?
When working from home it can be difficult to separate your work schedule from the day to day drudgery of family and household chores. It’s all too easy to nip away from the laptop to “just pop on a quick wash” or catch up on your paperwork. In addition, the to-do list left by family can end up making greater demands on your time than you need.
In a shared office there are fewer distractions, so the temptation to undertake a ‘quick’ household task or two is removed.
Additionally, a shared office offers well-designed workspaces, actually created to facilitate productivity. On an ongoing basis, working in the box room of your house at a battered old desk whilst sitting on a dilapidated kitchen chair just won’t do.
The stats say it all. 71% of workers saying they feel more creative in a co-working space while 68% say they are able to focus more.
Over time, working from home can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and low productivity.
Commercial agent Cushman and Wakefield state:
“In recent years, remote workers have increasingly voiced a significant challenge to this workplace concept: loneliness due to a lack of human interaction. Providing a venue for the exchange of human capital by implementing innovative solutions for workplace interaction has set shared space apart from the idea of working remotely. Nearly 83 percent of respondents in an
Emergent Research survey about coworking indicated that they are less lonely as a result of joining a coworking space, further proving the growing desire to “work alone together.”
The social element of co-working also shouldn’t be underestimated. Trent House is kitted out with trendy chill-out areas and an on-site gym, giving our co-workers the chance to recharge those batteries which in turn promotes both physical and mental wellbeing.
Networking and Increased Knowledge
Let’s face it. Starting a business or going solo can be tough.
Where on earth do you get all of your customers from?
Networking is your secret weapon here, and a co-working environment provides the ideal opportunity to build your network, working side-by-side with others from different industries.
In this way, members can benefit from each other’s expertise, fostering a spirit of collaboration.
Business opportunities aside, you will benefit from always having someone on hand to bounce your ideas off – and there’s also the social side – what better place to get to know someone than over Friday afternoon beers?!
According to Jamie Orr, Founder of Tahoe Mountain Lab; “Coworking is about creating a better place to work, and, as a result, a better way to work. Coworking spaces provide more than just office space. They are community centres, friendly gathering places, think tanks. When you rent a desk or an office, you gain coworkers to bounce ideas off and that support you professionally in a way that you can’t find working from home or in the corporate office. Coworking connects you to a global network of professional peers.”
Often, people who want to start their own businesses have been hindered by initial outlay of office space and the ongoing costs.
This is another benefit of co-working – the costs of utilities, internet and maintenance are shared so each person only pays for what they actually need.
Many of our BusinessLodge co-workers start off with a desk in our shared space and then progress to offices as their business grows. It’s a great, risk free starting point.
It’s estimated that there are currently over 35,000 flexible workspaces in the entire world which represents 521 million square feet of flexible space!
10.7 million of those square feet are in Central London.
And by 2020, 50% of large companies will have some form of shared office space demonstrating that coworking as a concept really is becoming the new normal.