April 23, 2021 by Andrea Rajic

A comprehensive guide to flexible workspaces

A comprehensive guide to flexible workspaces

Flexible workspaces compete with traditional office spaces for tenants, as many companies opt for remote workspaces instead of office leases. In addition, flex spaces bring greater flexibility, broader geographic coverage, and reduced costs to companies, which is why People teams increasingly choose them over offices.

We made this guide to help Workplace and People professionals navigate the flex spaces landscape and use them to benefit their organizations and employees. Here's what you'll learn by reading on:

  • What are flex spaces, and which types of these spaces exist?
  • Benefits of flex spaces for companies
  • How companies use flexible spaces
  • How to set up remote workspaces for your organization
  • How to manage remote workspace budgets

What are flexible workspaces, and which types are there?

Flexible workspaces are fully equipped and serviced workspaces that employees and companies can work from and enjoy all the amenities for a productive workday.

Flexible workspaces are also called flex spaces or remote workspaces. Flex spaces have flexible lease terms, as opposed to long-term office leases, which tie tenants to the occupancy for years. Flex space lease terms span from daily pay-as-you-go passes to month or year-long memberships.

When we think about the traditional office space, we know what it looks like: most likely an open plan and less often cubicles; remote workspaces come with a greater variety of layouts and types of spaces. Let's go over some of the most common ones:

  • Coworking spaces, offering on-demand access to shared workspace areas with office-like amenities (wi-fi, printers, coffee and tea, lounge areas, phone booths)
  • Hot desking is a way of booking workspaces means there are no reservations or designated desks. Instead, you drop by, choose an available desk and work there for a day.
  • Desk hoteling is the opposite of hot-desking and works by booking a dedicated desk for the day.
  • Dedicated office spaces are usually available inside coworking spaces as a way for companies to book a private space for their team only.
  • Coworking spaces usually have conference rooms for members to book and hold presentations and meetings.

Benefits of remote workspaces for companies

Flexible workspaces have many advantages over traditional office leases, from the flexibility and lower costs to scalability and positive effects on employee engagement. Let's see them one by one:

1. Flexibility for employees

We all know it, but it bears repeating every once in a while – employees want flexibility. They want it so much, in fact, that they're willing to take a pay cut or change jobs over it. Flexibility isn't just about where employees work – it's about being able to make choices about where, when, and how you work and feel most productive. It's a paradigm shift from micromanaging to trusting employees to tailor their work schedules in a way they think works best for them.

In other words, the era of one-size-fits-all solutions is gone; employees no longer want to be obliged to work in a 9-5 schedule if their productive hours are early mornings and late nights. They also don't want to be tethered to an office chair daily if there is no reason to be there. So while some of your employees may still want to come into the office every day as they did before, most will want flexibility and the chance to decide for themselves.

2. Reduced costs

With remote workspaces, you don't just save on rent but also expenses like fitting, furniture, and deposits. Additionally, you don't have to pay for utilities and cleaning expenses when using a flex workspace. When you calculate all the potential costs, you can save up to 60% on real estate, which is why many companies are already making this switch.

By providing flexibility to employees and enabling them to choose where they are most productive, you lower your company's turnover rate and increase retention. When you add all these cost savings together, you learn that remote workspaces let you save significant amounts of money as an organization while simultaneously providing a better employee experience.

3. Scalability

The cost of flexible office spaces can scale up and down depending on your needs. Fast-growing companies can scale their remote workspace footprint much faster than traditional office presence and do it in a way that doesn't hinder their growth.

Seamless expansion to different locations, faster employee rollout, reduced cost, and a physical presence in even the most remote areas give a significant advantage to companies using flex spaces, as they can move faster and focus on their growth, not their real estate.

4. Maintaining company culture

Even though it may seem counterintuitive, facilitating in-person connections is critical for company culture in distributed teams. While some employees need spaces for focused, heads-down work, the truth is that most of them use flex spaces to meet with coworkers, connect, and collaborate.

Serendipitous encounters, socialization, and idea exchange are vital processes for establishing working relationships, building trust, and keeping employees engaged at work. On top of that, flex spaces level the playing field between employees in large metro areas and smaller cities, ensuring everyone has the same opportunities, perks, and access to workspaces. As a result, employees using remote workspaces are unified and better connected to their company, work, and each other.

5. Reduced employee burnout & improved wellbeing

Remote work is great for many things, but there's one that it's awful for – work-life balance. As employees feel they can't disconnect when working from home, it's reassuring to know there's a place near them they can go to work and then leave when it's time to log off. Of course, not all your employees have an issue of this kind, but those who do will appreciate the ability to achieve this balance.

Additionally, the connection and company culture benefits we spoke about above help workers feel a sense of belonging and appreciation and improve their wellbeing at work and during off-hours.

Remote workspaces for companies

Remote and distributed companies use remote workspaces in many ways, from providing options and flexibility to employees to tailoring unique candidate experiences. What unifies all these companies is the need to streamline and simplify the workflows of their People, Workplace, and Employee Experience teams and divert their focus from administrative and logistical tasks to employee wellbeing.

Remote workspaces make this happen by enabling geographical expansion into new areas quickly and easily, so companies can benefit from a larger, distributed talent pool while keeping real estate costs low and employee engagement high. With platforms like Gable, companies can go even further and use a centralized suite to manage usage policies, set budgets, and gain insights into how their distributed workplace is doing, and what works for their employees.

How to set up remote workspaces for your employees

So how can you set up remote workspaces for your employees? Start by identifying where your employees are, what types of workspaces they need, and which use cases they need the most. For example, some employees have less than ideal home office conditions and need a workspace that lets them focus and be productive, while others want to meet coworkers twice a week for meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Talk to your employees or do a workplace survey to get a clear picture of what your employees need before you start procuring spaces.

Next, work on identifying budgets and policies on how different employees and teams can use workspaces to fulfill their needs without breaking the proverbial bank. After that, communicate your workplace strategy to employees clearly and make sure you gather data and feedback to measure the success of your efforts and inform future decisions.

How to manage remote workspace budgets

Budgeting for remote workspaces can be daunting for People teams, especially those used to fixed office leases. If you are unable to predict exactly what it may cost to provide remote workspaces to employees, don't worry – it doesn't have to be expensive.

You likely want different levels of privileges to apply to various departments inside your company - for example, sales vs. marketing, not to mention managers and executives. With platforms like Gable, you can manage remote workspace budgets and policies with just a few clicks, making it easy to tailor policies to your organizational structure and ensure spending doesn't go out of control.

Written By

Andrea Rajic

© 2022 Gable