The life of a human resources (HR) manager is rarely dull, but rarely easy. As an HR professional, you have a plethora of responsibilities on your plate; from participating in planning and development to advocating and supporting employees, the duties of an HR manager are integral in fostering an effective workplace. One of the many – and most important – hats that HR professionals wear is that of a leader of change. Modern HR leaders are skilled at minimizing change resistance and employee unrest within their organization by using strategies such as shaping organizational culture and weighing the success of change initiatives. Such skills have become all the more essential in a world that is now characterized by rapid and drastic change due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Suffice it to say that COVID-19 has massively shifted the way we work. With the boom in remote work following the outbreak, we’ve gone from boardrooms to Zoom rooms, our desks are now our kitchen tables, and our daily commutes are now non-existent. In the face of this crisis, HR managers all over the world have been forced to overcome a variety of challenges, including adjusting new and current employees to very different work conditions, facilitating remote work environments, and implementing workplace policies and procedures to reduce human contact. Though it has posed a significant challenge, these HR professionals have demonstrated a strong sense of innovation, resilience, and adaptability while coordinating workers’ transition to remote work.
The success of HR managers in transitioning their employees to work-from-home arrangements has been widely well-received by the workers themselves. In fact, as of May 2020, nearly 60% of American workers have said that they would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible, even as certain lockdown restrictions begin to ease. As the idea of returning to the office becomes increasingly common across the globe, many are asking themselves if they should return to the office or not?
With such a large portion of workers considering a permanent future in remote work (if given the option), organizations will likely need to consider downsizing their office spaces or closing them altogether to save on costs. However, in this scenario, companies run the risk of dissatisfying the employees who want to return to the office. Many of these workers cite increased camaraderie and productivity as key reasons they prefer working in the office.
So, where does that leave HR managers? How can you balance conflicting employee needs and wants to ensure that job satisfaction levels are not damaged? How do you balance the need to cut costs with employees’ desire to return to a shared office space? Well, the answer may just lie in a coworking space.
A coworking space is a setup in which employees from different companies share an office space. The use of these innovative workspaces is poised to become much more widespread as more companies shift away from having all of their personnel in one stand-alone building and opt for geographical diversification.
Here are just a few reasons HR managers should embrace coworking spaces in the post-COVID workforce:
Affordability is one of the main perks of coworking spaces. While a shared office can provide excellent amenities for workers, they can also come at a great cost. When you opt for a coworking space, however, you share your resources and your environment with fellow innovators and therefore share the cost of the space with them as well. Similarly, you only pay for the space you and your team plan to occupy, without having to worry about the cost of facilities and utilities. You also save on equipment and furniture costs since coworking spaces are already prepped with desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and other pieces that help make the space feel as comfortable and functional as possible. Slashing business expenses by pursuing this option is especially appealing considering the significant financial repercussions the pandemic has wreaked on companies all over the world.
Many coworking spaces offer a variety of plans for different price points. Whether you need a virtual office, a dedicated desk, or an entire office suite, coworking companies have several plan options that can accommodate you and your company.
Studies have shown that employees often experience a boost in productivity in coworking spaces. According to research conducted by Deskmag and Deskwanted, 74% of employees were more productive after working in a coworking space. Some potential reasons for this increase include more job control, employees ascribing more meaning to the work they do, and a more affirmed sense of identity within a workplace community.
In many circumstances, coworking spaces are accessible 24/7, which gives employees flexibility and autonomy in designing their workdays. If they want to work overtime to meet a tight deadline, they have the freedom and flexibility to do so. If they need to leave in the middle of the day to squeeze in a quick gym session or to pick up their kids from school, they have the ability to get this done without a hassle. Being able to manage their own time means less stress and happier employees.
Better Networking Opportunities
In the wake of the pandemic, networking events came to a screeching halt, significantly hindering workers’ ability to connect with one another and explore new professional pathways. Coworking spaces are an excellent way to launch your employees back into networking activities. Due to their setup, coworking spaces bring you in close proximity to other experts across various sectors who you likely wouldn’t have met otherwise. Meeting and engaging with these professionals, who have backgrounds and skill sets different from those of you and your employees, can be hugely valuable; learning from them and gaining insight into their industries may just be a contributing factor in driving your business forward.
Networking should be an especially high priority for HR managers. HR professionals are required to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across departments and to act as a conduit of information. There are certain core benefits that stem from effective networking that can greatly improve a person’s ability to fulfill such duties: the ability to build a reputation and boost credibility, gather advocates, and facilitate trust among colleagues, stakeholders, and employees. All of these skills are utterly essential for HR managers to be competent in their roles.
While the proximity to other professionals in coworking spaces allows for new networking opportunities, it also allows for the expansion of creativity. By meeting and collaborating with new people outside your company, you expose yourself to a plethora of new ideas, which can incite you to think more creatively and think of innovative solutions to existing organizational problems.
The role of HR managers in ensuring that companies adapt to a post-COVID workforce is absolutely integral. One of the most effective ways HR managers can strengthen their organization’s standing in this environment is by embracing coworking spaces. Affordability, increased productivity, added flexibility, networking opportunities, and added creativity are just a few of the many benefits coworking spaces offer employees in the current workforce. In embracing coworking spaces as a new form of office space, HR managers will better meet the needs of their employees and facilitate their transition into a post-pandemic workplace.