Rethinking workspace to connect space and people

Attitudes towards workplaces and office environments have changed drastically in recent years as employees have demanded more flexible ways of working. Work-life integration is now a crucial quality that people look for in employers, so offering a workspace that enables this is important to attracting and retaining talent.

Millennials, in particular, expect more from their work environment. According to a study by KPMG, 69 per cent of millennials would trade other benefits for a better workspace. With this demographic set to make up half the UK workforce next year, it’s clear businesses must listen to them if they want to retain their employees and attract fresh talent.

Employees perform at their best when they’re engaged and have the opportunity to connect on a human level, so WeWork designs workspace that encourages collaboration and interaction through innovation. Its technology powers its network and provides insight on space utilisation to evolve their spaces and drive more opportunities for connection. Members are able to turn everyday frustrations, like booking conference rooms and checking in guests, into delightfully seamless experiences, creating a smarter and more effective workspace.

These benefits have previously been mostly utilised by small businesses, which have led the evolution of workspace for many years. In the digital age, opportunities for real connection are rare and a growing number of workers are in satellite offices feeling increasingly disconnected with the world. They crave a working environment that prevents loneliness and allows them to connect with like-minded individuals.

As the largest physical social network in the world, with more than 400,000 members globally, WeWork has become a home for these people and companies. By mixing real-life connection with technology that keeps employees engaged, productive and open to opportunity, its workspaces enable businesses to grow and keeps them motivated. In the last year, the average growth rate across WeWork member companies in London was 31 per cent, compared with 2 per cent for all companies in the capital.

Workspaces will continue to evolve as the way people, space and technology work together transforms

However, large organisations are catching on to this crucial trend too. In a rapidly evolving business landscape, speed is now one of the major currencies for commercial success. Enterprise companies are realising that speed can’t be enabled in traditional office solutions which take around 12 months to select, negotiate, permit, agree contracts, design, build and move in. WeWork’s standard move-in process is 30 days.

Flexible spaces are increasingly attractive to enterprises because they provide the agility required to scale their workforces seamlessly when they need to and without worrying about moving offices. According to PwC, six in ten executives are unable to predict labour costs three years ahead. Locking into a long-term lease is no longer an option.

The process involved in creating an engaging, activated and well-utilised work environment can also be costly and complex. It’s more difficult than ever to bring a building to life without a large, dedicated team and there is now a greater need for vertical integration. Integration solutions, therefore, remove the stress for businesses.

These changes are shifting perceptions of WeWork from a small co-working company to a global provider of shared space offering office solutions for companies of all sizes. With a suite of products available to suit businesses of all sizes, WeWork creates entire headquarters for companies as well as providing custom build-outs through a unique suite, a specialised floor or a private, optimised layout.

Large companies still want their own space with their own brand, identity and culture, but they also want to simplify their office management. They don’t want to spend time on real estate processes and logistics, or wonder why the cleaner hasn’t shown up or whether the printer ink is low. Instead they want to focus all their energies on delivering the best value to customers and shareholders.

WeWork’s members range from large enterprise companies, such as banks, to artists, designers, writers, app developers and more. They all benefit from being part of the WeWork community, and their employees are happier and more motivated as a result, with access to discounted health insurance and gym memberships, special events and an internal social network for professional development.

A third of the Fortune 500 are now WeWork members and 46 per cent of enterprise members globally say it has helped them enter new markets. With WeWork’s Global Access membership, companies are given unlimited access to WeWork’s entire network of offices around the world, ensuring consistent workforce productivity wherever people are.

Workspaces will continue to evolve as the way people, space and technology work together transforms. Work will be distributed into three categories: human workforce, intelligent automation and augmented intelligence. People will always be needed to perform tasks that require human judgment, but as their jobs become more specialised, flexible working practices are needed to keep up with the latest technological advances.

The repetitive tasks that are in many cases done by people, such as booking space for a meeting, will increasingly become automated and jobs still considered only possible for people to do, such as writing a news article, will be completed by machine-learning and artificial intelligence tools. Rather than replacing employees, these types of technologies will augment the jobs human employees are doing.

In this new world, the future of work will be measured by how people feel. It will be flexible, distributed and built around community. WeWork provides a ready-made portfolio of high-profile locations, allowing companies easily to flex their space. The opportunity is there to have their own identity and culture without the stress of managing offices, using WeWork’s technology and community to grow their business.

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