Decentralised offices: Is it the future?

Although most office workers want to return to the office for part of their working week, what nobody missed was arduous commutes. As part of the facilitation of a more flexible work environment and a better work-life balance is a move towards decentralised offices, with smaller satellite offices in regional locations and second cities. In an article by Property Week, Emma Long, Manager Director (North) at BizSpace, said: “This ‘hub-and-spoke’ model can help people return to the office with confidence and help facilitate the much-needed shift to more agile working, empowering staff to work when and where they want. Many graduates and other workers starting out their careers have for too long been excluded by the steep commuting and relocation costs of some businesses’ London-centric office footprints.”

In WSP’s article, Professor Kerr from Harvard Business School, said: “A lot of companies are going to be thinking about how they could make their workforce if not pandemic-proof, at least pandemic-resistant. Opening a second office might not have made sense historically, but maybe something that younger companies should do at an earlier stage. We have celebrated density and packing people together, but that’s putting a lot of eggs in one basket.”

Decentralising will also mean massive cost savings, so it’s an attractive option for many companies particularly with distributed staff members.

That being said, city-centre office locations are not dead. Although many companies may shrink their square footage in central locations, with the purpose of the post-pandemic office being about an activity-based culture hub and a destination of sorts, a building centre with a lack of amenities and transport nearby does not quite fit the bill. City centre office locations will need to focus on creating a space around culture, activity, connection and collaboration. A destination of choice. While the satellite offices offer facilities offering a more practical day-to-day base for nearby staff.

An article on Consultancy UK by Anthony Lorenz, founder of boutique commercial property consultancy – Lorenz Consultancy, said: “What we are seeing is a significant change in demand for space, and whilst I do not believe that demand for offices will disappear, the way that companies envisage their needs has transformed almost overnight.”

Arup tapped into this trend and proposed that employers may implement “a flexible toolkit of workplace offerings” which would allow employees to understand the facilities at their disposal, giving them the choice on when and where they work. The report continued to explain how technology such as a workplace experience app could be utilised to create a cohesive workplace environment: “One way of making this possible is the concept of ‘digital concierges’. The digital concierge is the interconnectivity of clusters of spaces spread over a portfolio of assets, which are governed and accessed through apps or other interactive platforms. This helps make an otherwise discrete group of spaces and environments part of a cohesive whole.” Companies moving to decentralised offices and a hybrid style of working will need to consider what technology they implement to help facilitate this shift.

Concierge

The term ‘workplace’ as we know it has changed. It’s no longer a term to define an office with four walls, but more so an environment that’s both physical and digital that facilitates work, collaboration and communication. Therefore the future of the workplace, be it decentralised, distributed and remote, needs a digital layer to encompass all of its physical and virtual elements cohesively.  District Technologies offers just this. The native mobile app keeps workplace communities connected from anywhere and pulls together both smart building technologies to optimise the physical space as well as community fostering and communication tools for facilitating the virtual and remote world of work. Book a demo with District to find out more.

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