Offices should be communities, not cubicles

Remote working has shown that people can be just as productive at home as in the office, so what is driving the return to the office? For Rebecca McKeown, operations director at Colony Cowork, flexibility, communication and adaptability are key

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What effect has hybrid working had on office space?

Hybrid working has led to workspace providers needing to be more flexible with their offering, with companies looking to be increasingly organised and efficient in their approach. Before Covid, companies rented space to accommodate everybody employed by their entire business in one office. Now, many organisations are giving up their larger traditional office spaces and opting instead for workspace that is more flexible in nature.

The past five years have shown us how much things can change, so businesses must be agile and ready to adapt. If they are stuck in long-let office space, that’s hard to do. Serviced office providers like us take the stress out of this. From providing phone booths and meeting rooms to break-out spaces and events, we have the flexibility to work with businesses as individuals and adapt to their needs. With over six locations in Manchester that are open 24/7, our spaces are designed to accommodate a modern business approach.

How can shared workspaces help with employee engagement?

People want more from their time at work. They don’t just want to come into the office to do their job, they want to socialise with others and connect with a professional community that provides opportunities and ideas too.

Remote working during Covid took away companies’ connection with their people. We’re finding that more and more businesses want their teams to return to the office to rebuild that connection and so they can speak to colleagues in-person and feel part of a network.

That’s why we’ve always invested in the community and events side of our business. Being able to offer collaborative and social events – everything from professional networking and panel talks to wellbeing workshops and music sessions – engages existing employees and helps attract new ones.

We find that the companies we work with often list the benefits we offer as part of their talent attraction package. High-quality office fit-out, premium coffee, community brunches, wellness activities and access to networking are big draws for employees.

Shared workspaces also offer companies more opportunity to attract the best talent globally. By providing flexible workspace we help to support this.

Colony is a Manchester-based company. What makes the region so attractive to both employees and organisations?

As a city, Manchester has always attracted top talent and we have seen a growing number of businesses set up their second office or regional hub here. We’re also increasingly seeing international organisations choosing Manchester as a base for their first UK office.

This is due to the fact that Manchester is an exciting place for people to live, with a huge cultural offering. Neighbourhoods like Ancoats – where many of our co-working offices are located – is consistently voted one of the best places to live and work in the UK.

The city has gone through major redevelopments since its days as an industrial powerhouse. Some of our venues are housed in former mills or mill worker accommodation, giving a rich historical backdrop to the modern workforces operating in these spaces today.

We seek to revolutionise these spaces and create environments where all industries feel a connection. Manchester has a great tech scene, so a lot of those kinds of companies come here but the variety of businesses in our venues is endless. There’s definitely a bright future for business in Manchester and we are proud to be playing a part in that.

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