By its suddenness and virulence, the Covid-19 epidemic has taken the whole world by surprise and the ensuing economic crisis spares no sector of activity. After having met a dazzling success (approximately 1 800 sites in France and nearly 20 000 throughout the world), the spaces of coworking also suffer from the economic consequences of Coronavirus. But with the accelerated emergence of new hybrid work models, the model may well be able to turn this crisis into an opportunity.
According to figures from the Ministry of Labor, nearly a quarter of French employees were teleworking during the first lockdown in spring 2020, compared to only 7% before. Thus, during 8 weeks, even the most frightened companies tried the experience of remote work.
From this unprecedented episode, it appears that the employees who experimented the home-office plebiscite this new autonomy and appreciate to spend less time in the transport which we know that it greatly impacts the levels of fatigue and stress.
Containment has allowed to experiment remote working on a large scale
Generally speaking, telecommuting contributes to the balance between the professional and personal lives of employees. But it remains that working from home is not a panacea. Numerous studies carried out during and after the confinement have highlighted the fact that working conditions are not always optimal (unsuitable equipment, poor ergonomics, no dedicated space) and that there are well-recognized psycho-social risks such as cognitive overload and anxiety.These include cognitive overload, blurring (work spills over into personal life), stress generated by sometimes overly controlling remote management, not to mention the feeling of isolation and the weakening of interpersonal relationships.
Moreover, while Twitter was announcing to its employees that they could work in a home office "for life", other players were demonstrating that working people were eager to return to the office.The solution seems to lie in the creation of a new office space, where people can work in the same way as they do at home, but where they can also meet their colleagues and reconnect with their social life.
The solution seems to lie in the adoption of a hybrid model combining face-to-face and remote work, with new teleworkers working not from home but fromcoworking spaces that offer an adapted and friendly professional environment.
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The place of coworking is reinforced in the post-covid work organization
The advent of digital technology had already given a big boost to mobile work: large groups such as PwC, Axa, TF1, PSA, L'Oréal, Danone or Sanofi have implemented for several years the principles of flex-office. However, faced with the current crisis and these new agile-working trends, more and more companies are also questioning their real estate strategy: according to a recent study conducted in June 2020 among 150 users, 50% of them are considering reducing their office space. But if downsizing allows companies to reduce their fixed costs and preserve their cash flow, it must also be accompanied by a global strategic reflection on the organization of work.
Le Bureau is increasingly positioned as a corporate hub, designed as a place of exchange to stimulate creativity and innovation, and to strengthen team spirit. Thus, in Seattle, the 4,000 employees at Starbucks headquarters are not expected to return to the office until the fall of 2021. This decision, made in part because of Covid-19, is also the result of a space transformation project: no longer having private or assigned offices, employees will only move to headquarters when they need to meet with colleagues and collaborate with teams. They will then reserve a parking space, an office, a meeting room or simply gather around a coffee. The commercial lease has a lot to worry about!
At the same time, it is clear that the future of the office is no longer limited to a single place, but to an ecosystem of spaces composed of the head office and third places, which are obviously part of coworking spaces. As David Leclabart (director of the Australia agency) explains in the columns of Challenges magazine, the communications group now wants to offer its employees the choice of working from their offices or in one of the 30 Parisian sites of a coworking operator.
Finally, another trend that also seems to weigh in favor of coworking is that of decentralization. In the United States, for example, Amazon and Pinterest recently announced that they were considering downsizing their California HQs and opening satellite offices in Denver, Phoenix and San Diego. New locations in more affordable cities (both in terms of office rents and employee housing budgets) are indeed expanding hiring opportunities to talent from different backgrounds. A Parisian company can rent flex-office space in the heart of Paris CBD and integrate coworking sites located in the regions or even in the countryside into its ecosystem! Because even if we are far from the urban exodus that some people predicted when the first confinement came to an end, the experimentation of remote has allowed some employees to consider more concretely the possibility of moving to a regional metropolis.
In the light of these different studies, analyses and other recent movements, the health crisis will not have killed the Le Bureau, nor called into question the co-working spaces. It is indeed more than obvious that coworking spaces offer today the essential flexibility to companies to organize their resilience in the wake of Covid-19.
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