Everywhere you look, things are getting more expensive, whether it’s normal consumer goods through increased rates of inflation, or electricity and gas because of high energy prices. And while this affects all of us at a personal level, it affects businesses just as much, too.
Many retail and consumer-facing enterprises are already feeling the financial squeeze, but even bigger businesses that are largely office-based aren’t immune to the challenge that the cost of living crisis poses.
There are, thankfully, many things that an organization can do to mitigate some of the effects of higher costs, and you may be surprised to learn that flexible working can play a leading role in a number of them. In this blog, we’ll explore five ideas you can apply to a flexible or hybrid workplace.
Optimizing energy use
It might almost sound too obvious to say, but if nobody is in a particular office or on a particular floor, then there’s no need to provide energy to it. Some lighting may need to stay on, simply for security reasons, but heating, ventilation and computer power supply can be turned off or down in order to reduce the energy burden.
If certain office areas or meeting rooms are bookable, then facilities teams should be able to check times when offices have or haven’t been booked, and adjust energy provision to suit. Additionally, technology like sensor-activated lights can turn lights on when people enter a room, and go off soon after they leave.
Scaling back real estate
According to Advanced Workplace Associates, employees in the UK are currently visiting the office an average of 1.5 days a week, compared to 3.8 before the pandemic. This means that many businesses simply don’t need all the office space that they had before.
Now is the time for organizations to explore scaling down their office provision to a size better matched to the numbers of people they have on site each day. As well as saving on office rental costs, it also reduces the burden of high overheads and energy bills needed for an unnecessarily large site.
Maximizing existing space
If you’re not able or willing to reduce your real estate, then there’s plenty you can do to make better use of all the space at your disposal. Turning unused meeting rooms into informal breakout zones for less structured collaboration can help bring employees’ creativity to life on the days that they’re in the office. If there are more workstations than people, you could also consider creating ‘quiet zones’ or installing individual work pods, so that employees can book somewhere in which they know they can focus on their work in peace.
Adjusting the office over time
It’s important to remember that what’s right for your business and workforce today might not be right tomorrow. New business priorities may emerge, and some employees may prefer to go back into the office more often (especially if rising energy bills at home make it more expensive to work remotely). So you should never stand still when it comes to the layout of your office, and the availability of different types of workspace. A good workspace booking and management solution will allow you to analyze usage data, and gain insights that can help you reshape the office to changing needs over time.
Encouraging employees to use the office
As the statistic above demonstrates, many businesses have found it challenging to get employees back into the office on a regular basis. And while the direct financial benefit of working from the office will mainly only apply to those with short commutes, the office can still be of great value to the workforce in very trying times. Employees who are struggling with their mental well-being because of financial pressures, on top of the isolation of working remotely, can use the office as a sanctuary where they can get support when they need it. The workplace can also act as a hub for social and team-building events where employees can build bonds and let off steam.