Flex office: Beyond cost optimisation towards an employee experience focus21 september 2022
Initially designed to optimise and reduce space with an eye towards saving costs, the concept of flex office is now expanding: to improve the employee experience. Indeed, although 77% of companies admit that the main reason for switching to flex office remains cost reduction¹, the desire is growing to couple this transformation with the intention to provide real added value to users. It is no longer simply a question of saying, we are switching to flex office to reduce our space or to rethink it, but also to take advantage of this reorganisation to make offices more pleasant, adaptable and to offer authentic additional services that will ultimately contribute to enhancing the on-site experience and well-being at work.
1. Combining flexibility and service quality
Beyond the concept of flex office, people are more frequently discussing smart offices in a broader sense. In other words, offices connected to employees to offer new services, reduce friction in every day work life and create real added value.
If the office becomes flexible with the option of reserving a space at any time of the day and according to one’s needs, all the other services a company offers also become flexible. In this sense, functionalities that were originally typical of flex office management, such as access to an interactive map in real time to find an available workspace, are being extended to other services such as the location of resources (e.g. equipment, lockers, parking spaces, etc.) or participation in activities offered by the company (e.g. booking a sports class). The employee’s entire day becomes flexible with the emergence of this new type of service and the networked collaborative tools that make it possible.
The data analysis provided by the various space management tools will also make it possible to develop and adapt the services offered to meet the real needs of employees.
2. Service quality that benefits companies and coworking spaces
Offering offices that adapt to employees is also a way of retaining them. With the increase in home office work, companies are now trying to make people want to come back to the office. And to do this, they need to provide them with a framework and services that they do not find when they work from home.
This concept of flexibility and benefits also represents a significant competitive advantage for HR departments compared to more traditionally operated companies. This is because the workplace is an important part of the corporate identity as an employer and a company. It reflects its values, vision and way of working, offering a «shop window» that is increasingly noticed by applicants looking for a job.
This aspect is particularly important among Millennials (born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s), who will make up around 75% of the global workforce by 20252. Known to place great value on their personal well-being and development, this generation is relatively difficult to recruit, let alone retain. The sense of belonging to the company and the well-being at work fostered by stimulating premises therefore help to attract new talent.
Coworking spaces have been on the rise in recent years, and even more so with the advent of hybrid work, and are also part of the New Ways of Working approach. Companies are taking advantage of these innovations to sustainably position themselves in the workplace market of the future. The development of these structures is based on the same premises: offering high quality services and environments adapted to real needs that are not found when working at home. They also represent an advantageous alternative for people who do not have an optimised environment for working at home, as shown by the many coworking spaces that are being set up outside urban areas to offer improved user proximity.
3. The example of Cobot and ROOMZ
The recent collaboration between Cobot and ROOMZ is a good example of two solutions joining forces to create even smarter offices and to offer quality services.
Cobot, a coworking space management software designed to automate and centralise all tasks needed to run shared offices smoothly (administrative management, resource management, payments, etc.), sought to extend its services to offer a better experience to its users.
Among the development priorities was the desire to offer a real-time visualisation of the occupancy of workspaces to facilitate their use. Towards this end, Cobot and ROOMZ joined forces to combine their two solutions to create an interactive and interconnected tool.
This visualisation of all workspaces offers flexibility on several levels:
- The ROOMZ Flightboard, placed in locations with plenty of through-traffic, gives users a real-time view of reservations made via the Cobot application, as well as the upcoming reservations of their colleagues, thus facilitating collaboration.
- The ROOMZ Display, which is also connected to the Cobot reservation platform, is installed at the entrance of the meeting rooms, making it possible to reserve a room on the spot or to display future reservations.
- ROOMZ sensors placed under desks or in huddle spaces detect the presence of people and automatically update the occupancy status if someone is present or has reserved the space via Cobot.
Any ROOMZ resource can be connected to the Cobot tool to facilitate the search/reservation of workspaces, improving collaboration and productivity.
> Learn more about these features in the Cobot blog post about this integration.
To develop their workspaces, companies are therefore increasingly focusing on the quality of their infrastructure as well as on collaboration tools, while offering employees a widening range of services to support their individual productivity.