After experiencing major workplace disruptions throughout 2020 and 2021, 2022 will present new challenges, opportunities, and things to think about when it comes to how we work.
Recently, Hub Australia produced a whitepaper on liberated work in collaboration with WORKTECH Academy, drawing on interviews with global workplace experts and a survey of 500 corporate employees, to explore the evolution of the corporate workplace.
The report reinforces that traditional offices were only ever a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the endless complexity of work, and establishes the notion that hybrid work is just a stepping stone to a more liberated version that will allow workers to work where they want, when they want, and how they want.
Making use of findings from the report, here are the top five coworking trends I believe we’ll see come about in 2022 and beyond.
1. The Role of the Office Shifts
The office is back—but for good reason—it will be different. Flexibility and the autonomy it provides is set to realize value for the trifecta of a business, its people, and the community.
The office’s role in work is set for a permanent change, and focus will be on culture, learning, and collaboration, fostering social connection to build community and fulfill the need for people to be a part of something bigger. The great workspaces realize the potential of utilizing coworking spaces to make the commute worth it—providing hospitality services, technology, and in-demand amenities made available by coworking providers to satisfy employee needs.
Our report found that 23% of employees ‘never’ feel connected to the workplace when they work virtually. When asked for reasons why they are returning to the office, more than half of respondents claim it was because they wanted to collaborate with their colleagues. Closely behind collaborating with colleagues was access to technology and amenities, and because they felt more productive in the office.
2. Big Business Experiments
Very few businesses, or their people, will want to make the binary choice of working completely from home or completely from the office—that’s where coworking spaces step in.
With only 21% of our survey respondents seeing themselves returning to a traditional full time office environment—and 56% stating they would consider switching employers if increased flexibility isn’t an option—employers need to invest in HR resources, technology, and workplace real estate that allows them to adapt and respond to the individual requirements of all employees.
Coworking providers will likely see a distinct increase in corporate enquiries from larger enterprises looking to provide in-demand spaces to retain employees.
3. Small Business Works Locally
‘Work near home’ will become the default for small businesses. Convenience and authenticity will be one of the ways that small businesses can win the war for talent over their larger competitors. At the same time, a rapid increase in the number of flex workspaces in the suburbs will bring huge increases in the quality of those offerings, meaning small businesses won’t need to compromise on their level of workspace.
With 53% of workers willing to forego a pay increase to work flexible hours, businesses offering a flexible space close to home gives employees even further opportunity to achieve their ideal work-life balance, through the simple act of eliminating long commute times. Coworking providers will be looking to suburban retail centers as the ideal location for their outer-CBD spaces, as they provide the best setting for suburban customers; close to transport, food, and lifestyle amenities.
4. Landlords Adapt to Their New Reality
The expectation of landlords to provide flexible terms, customized fit-outs, and ever-increasing levels of amenity and service lead to rapid innovation of new partnerships with coworking providers, with a focus on hospitality-led experiences.
Just as the CBD is undergoing a huge transformation, many office buildings will no longer tick all the boxes they need to in the post-pandemic workplace. As a result, landlords will be looking to providing flexible membership terms instead of traditional, long-term leases.
5. Technology Continues its March
We ended up pleasantly surprised that tech had got good enough that most knowledge worker tasks could be done remotely. In some senses, the ‘metaverse’ is already here for the worker, and we are working with the basic tools already available in the early stages of the digital office.
As often happens though, the tech is set to advance far quicker than humans and organizations can catch up. It’s imperative for coworking providers to ensure they are implementing leading tech and software in their spaces, as well as training their service staff in tech support.
Interested in checking out the Liberated Work Whitepaper? Download your copy here.