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Workplace Flexibility

Workplace Flexibility

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Workplace Flexibility Vademecum - a practical guide to key trends in the office real estate market and how to combine traditional workspaces with their flexible variation.

2020 can undoubtedly be viewed as having been a breakthrough year. Within days, sometimes hours, we were forced to rethink our habits and rearrange our plans for the future - near and distant all to remain safe and limit the spread of the virus. Uncertainty became a permanent part of our everyday lives. As a result, our workplaces - the second most crucial environment in which we had spent time up till then - had to adjust. From the perspective of the experience of the past months, we know that the pandemic constitutes rather a substantial evolution than the catalyst for a revolution, accelerating the ongoing changes in real estate strategies that would have otherwise taken years to implement.

We have also observed the search for the perfect balance between the traditional office, home, and flexible workspaces - the latter being given increasing attention due to global uncertainty and the desire to sustain this new way of working. The pandemic has visibly accelerated the shift towards more flexible workplace solutions.

"We have decided to publish this material for two reasons. First, the past year was challenging, during which a number of concerns regarding the future of the office market arose, as did expert opinions in response to them. We wanted to collate and present them to the reader in the form of a vademecum in order to let readers decide for themselves what appear to be the current key trends. Second, April marks four years since flex space operator Business Link joined the Skanska Group. This is probably the best time to share our flexible workplace practices. Conversations about managing uncertainty and achieving agility in workplace organization haven’t been this critical in many years, and we have excellent know-how in this particular area. After all, we were the first developer to invest in a flex operator."

Katarzyna Zawodna-Bijoch
President and CEO
Skanska commercial development business unit in the CEE

Key market findings that accelerate flexible workplace strategies

The vademecum would not be complete if we did not take the trouble to gather and analyze ther market participants’ predictions for the office real estate market. These confirm, among other things, that our observations and can be summarized in five key findings:

70/30 rule

Companies will search for a combination of long and short-term workplace engagements, leveraging even more widely distributed and fluid spaces such as flex-space, thus introducing strategies for a well-thought-out workstation pool division. 30% will serve as a „third space”: physical workspace between the office and home but without the distractions of either. On the one hand, this will be possible thanks to the trust gained almost overnight in the „working from everywhere” approach or due to using new digital tools. On the other hand, corporations working more and with greater flexibility while looking for business resilience and continuity will see a financial advantage in incorporating flex-spaces into the workstation pool. Designed practically for times of uncertainty, they offer reduced risk associated with long-term lease agreements or a pay-per-use approach. They are thus acting as a perfect buffer for everything unforeseen.

Those who wrote off physical offices were wrong

Despite the initial assumptions that a lockdown and forced home-office environment would almost completely deprive the company’s physical headquarters of its meaning, reality and employees’ feelings of well-being measured during the pandemic showed a slightly different picture of the future of traditional offices. The traditional office is not about to vanish, but its purpose will be redefined. Research has shown that workers have missed their offices, claiming that they find the in-office ergonomics more satisfying. Corporate HQs have proven to fulfill the broader dimensions of work by providing an opportunity for staff to collaborate, connect, and be inspired. Therefore, the office will
remain the primary place of work, leveraging its hospitality, and being somewhere we will certainly not spend as much time as before, yet still a significant amount.

For flex, it was just a pitstop

Offering access service in a flexible formula has its price. Flex space operators were on the front lines of quick termination of contracts and temporary suspension of decision-making. Strong players, those with a good funding reserve and cash flow that allowed them to survive this most challenging time, will come away unscathed. The recovering demand will gain in strength. Corporate clients, who are critical to building a healthy tenant portfolio and have experienced unpredictable and sudden changes, will look for better business sustainability and be less willing to commit to large and long leases, opting for more flexible workplace solutions to reduce costs. Be assured that the flex approach will be rediscovered in mixed-solution real estate strategies.

The clash of expectations

Developers of commercial office property will increasingly be on the spot. Basing their model of efficient leasing while the project is at the development stage or under construction and then selling the building even more efficiently, developers will be caught between two strong expectations. On the one hand, tenants will push for shorter leases for smaller spaces. On the other, investors interested in buying the building will still require well-secured, long-term leases. The solution to being between a rock and a hard place seems to be flex, which can be an ideal complementary solution to an extended lease agreement. For example, certain corporate functions requiring permanent employees will continue to exist subject to traditional contracts. On the other hand, creative tasks that are variable in terms of the number of FTEs required and the type of tasks performed will be able to nestle into flex space. Thus, both in the building or close by, core & flex will be quite in the investor’s favor.

Dispersion as an ideal choice for the corporate world.

In the search of the golden mean, employers have come to terms with the fact that the corporate HQs are not the only stronghold that guarantees digital safety and efficient work. This paradigm shift has reopened the option to source employees from regional talent pools and recalibrate real estate strategies by including smaller cities in the workstation footprint. Thus, regional spokes-satellites will be back in favor. Additionally, the drive for non-core office locations within cities, so present in the „15-minute city” concept, underpinned mostly by employees’ desire for shorter commuting times, could result in the development of smaller offices on the outskirts of cities. Regardless of the scale of dispersion, we are bound to hear about hub-spoke/satellite strategies with traditional „core” offices in the hub role and flex spaces in the satellite or spoke.

Did you know that...

Read more about how to introduce flexibility into your workplace strategy!

Traditional spaces (core)

We invite you to contact us if you are interested in a workstation pool diversification strategy - our leasing experts will prepare a tailor-made flexible workplace offer. No matter which of our experts listed you contact, we work together every time, including when it comes to advising on the right kind of workplace strategy for your business. 

We are present in four CEE countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania, and are proud to be delivering the best quality office spaces in:

Flex space

Currently, the combined core & flex offer of the Skanska can be obtained in five cities: Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Wrocław, and Prague – perfect for the hybrid, growth, and swing models of combining office requirements.

Take a lot at beautifully designed workspace spaces of Business Link:

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