Is there a light at the end of Groundhog Day?
I’m sure we are all living a similar Groundhog Day. The novelty of discovering the Zoom backgrounds has long since worn off, and so has 9 hours of talking to your webcam.
Speaking from a purely flexible office point of view, we have some positives, negatives and future opportunities regarding this black swan event.
Any product with a limited contract length that is consumed through a physical experience has been paralysed by the speed and severity of COVID-19. Office buildings across the UK are lying vacant, with most of the industry workers being furloughed.
Since the ’90s, the corporate world has been predicting a shift to ‘remote working’, and this is the first time we get to test its viability. The biggest social experiment is underway! I wonder how long it will take us to become like the inhabitants of Axiom (the spaceship floating around space for 140 years in the Pixar film WALL-E) and what will be left of society when we come out of hibernation.
Now we are past the first work-from-home week, most people have got through the initial set-up issues and realised that their home isn’t an adequate long-term alternative. It is, after all, a home.
Even if you have the perfect working environment - free from children, fast wi-fi and a pro Zoom account - we are social animals. We crave contact with others for support, wellbeing and entertainment. Social interaction even affects one’s overall health. A 2010 report in The Journal of Health and Social Behaviour cited evidence linking a low quantity of social ties with a host of conditions, including the development and worsening of cardiovascular disease, repeat heart attacks, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, cancer and slowed wound healing.
In any sector, work isn’t just about cashing a paycheque at the end of the month. It’s about meeting likeminded people, sharing ideas and working toward common goals.
What does this all mean for the flexible industry, what models will be left standing and how will we need to evolve:
a. This is primarily driven by landlords not wishing to risk their building investment value. Certain companies and the perceived lack of income guarantee, through the use of shell companies, have created this scepticism from the investment market. Industry behaviour through this crisis will either cement or improve the current view
b. It is inherently risky playing the arbitrage between market and long-term commitment, so nei-ther party should want to enter into this type of arrangement.
c. Landlords are also looking to do this themselves (most have realised it is hard/they aren’t set-up for it) so why would they lease space to someone else for 10-20 years?
So what does the future hold?
Please look after yourself, keep your family safe and don't hesitate to get in touch.
All views are my own and any opinions expressed do not reflect those of the business.
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