30 May 2019
Cubicles? Open concepts? Nay, flexible offices is THE new trend
Traditional offices have been around for about a century. Pre-millennials might be familiar and comfortable with cubicle walls and dedicated desks whilst Millennials and Generation Z are more open towards open spaces.
However, traditional offices are criticised for being hierarchical and rigid, and open offices have backfired on solving the problems of cubicles by killing privacy, productivity and ironically, collaboration (Studies have shown that face-to-face interaction with co-workers have dropped by 70% in open offices). Just check out the disadvantages of both designs in the video below:
Coupled by the fact that companies are getting smaller and smaller to require renting a full office, as well as the increasing trend of collaboration in an ever-changing work dynamic, and you’ll find that flexible office (co-office/ serviced office) spaces are increasing in popularity.
Hot-desking is the hot thing now.
Co-working spaces provide hot-desking: a type of arrangement where sitting is freely allocated on a first come first sit basis. Hot-desking allows workers more freedom in wherever they work in the office as long as they are comfortable. Sounds like studying in a library but in an office instead.
This means no more pesky allocated seating arrangement with a co-worker you despise beside you. Sounds good? It does.
Gone are the boundaries of sitting with the same department. You are able to sit with people you have to work with from different departments, which makes communication so much easier and productive.
Whilst co-working spaces provide the ‘open space’ vibes, serviced offices allows a more corporate feel with closed off private rooms for those who require a bit more privacy in their work. Moreover, co-working spaces have ‘dedicated desk’ options for those who want to customise their work desk.
Hassle free and low cost
As more companies are shrinking in size, it is more economical to opt in for shared office spaces.
A rental space price range in Singapore is about $1-10 per sqft. Since an average office space would be roughly 100sqft, which would cost $100-$1000 per person (Depends on where you rent your office space; varies from location and type of space).
Although it sounds reasonable to rent from cheaper places that have $1-5 per sqft (Heartland industrial zone), you would have to pay the full cost of the entire office space, regardless of your company size. Which means it may cost more per person to have a leased office for $2,300 conservatively but with less than 10 people.
Take a co-office with a $230 hot desk fee per person, if your company size is around 7-8 people, your cost would be $1,610-$1,840. Compared to having $2,300 for a company headcount of 1-9 people, co-office spaces seems to be a viable choice.
A co-office space provides the scalability as there is a fixed fee per person to utilise the office. This is suitable for small companies who don’t require a lot of space. It is also equipped with facilities maintained by the co-office company. This brings me to my next point.
Less is more
Think about it, would you rather spend money getting your own exercise equipment, which are costly to begin with, or get a membership at a gym?
If I were you, I’ll choose the latter. And so do many other people.
With all the facilities like pantries; meeting rooms; dedicated phones and phone lines; WiFi; printers; lockers; chill areas and more, you can reduce fixed capital outlay from purchasing office equipment and renovating office space, as well as maintaining equipment, facilities, and office space.
Not only that, but most co-working spaces offer virtual offices: which allow you to register your work address in a prime location, have someone answer your calls, and have your mails handled by the host company themselves.
Ease of network and talent sourcing
Co-offices provide opportunities for your employees and co-workers to network and collaborate with other people from other firms (Provided they don’t get distracted).
Expanding your network can do lots of benefits for your personal or professional life.
In a co-working space, you get to meet different people with different skill sets that can complement and provide value to your firm. Gone were the days that you have to go to networking events to get leads or collaborators when they are working with you.
Another plus point for working in a co-office is the conduciveness that the environment brings; the healthy competition that the other firms can bring can improve productivity within company members.
Cons of co-working spaces: Compromise of companies’ privacy
Of course there would be flaws for flexible office spaces; the biggest being your company does not own the space. Privacy and security could be a main concern even if there is a dedicated system and facilities to counter that. You are not able to store files at any drawers like a traditional office.
You would have less control of your environment as a company although having more as an individual. So if you have more than 10 employees, leasing a private office space might be more feasible.
After all, it is a shared space; which makes you more constrained by other people's usage of the same space.
Like it or not, office spaces will always evolve as the dynamics of companies shifts. If you are adaptable enough to understand the trend of flexible offices, do use it to your advantage. The tides favour those who know how to adapt to the waves.
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