Many UK co-working users prefer traditional office

Friday, October 25, 2019

Forty per cent of co-working users in the United Kingdom would rather work in a conventional office space, according to a new joint-research study from Gensler and the British Council of Offices.

The 2019 Rise of Flexible Workspace in the Corporate Sector Report examined the growing rise of flexible workspace in the UK corporate sector, primarily in the financial services, real estate and consulting industries.

When looking at the preference for traditional versus flexible space across industry sectors, the numbers show that 46 per cent of workers in consulting services would favour the return to a traditional set-up, compared to 37 per cent in financial services.

“A one-size-fits-all flexible workspace does not cut it,” said Cesar Jeri, digital workplace strategy lead at Verizon. “There are still many firms with a high degree of process with individual focus needs; so flexible and collaborative spaces can be highly distracting for some whilst energizing for people in other parts of the business. A workspace needs to be first and foremost inclusive and empower people to make a choice so that it can address the needs of most, if not all, its end users.”

The research also uncovered that only 29 per cent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that a flexible workplace had increased their efficiency for tasks where they needed to concentrate, while 38 per cent disagreed. Satisfaction rates for spatial and service features were 12 per cent lower in London compared to other regional cities. More than half of respondents said they were happier at work (57 per cent), while 69 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they were able to collaborate more in their workplace.

UK-based large corporates are at different stages in the adoption of flexible workspace. The more mature ones have combined several approaches that enable them to collect feedback on user experience in order to have a better understanding of the type of spatial settings and flexible working arrangements that drive employee productivity and enrich user experience.

Collaborative or shared spaces were rated as the top three spatial features in the user survey conducted for this study. Large UK corporations increasingly see the benefits of either developing their own co-working area within their real estate portfolio or leasing a private area in a shared serviced space.

“Our research suggests that the companies interviewed are all progressively moving away from this individual membership model and capitalizing on lessons learned – implementing a flexible workplace strategy in their own space where they can influence its design, tailor the user experience and envision specific business outcomes,” noted Jane Clay, principal and design director at Gensler. “This approach also has the added benefit of enabling large corporates to personalize their space and showcase their brand within a less traditional work environment, with a direct positive impact on their recruiting process.”


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