The third way: Working together in a flexible space
WHAT'S THE ISSUE?
There's working from the office, and there's working from home. And then there's the third option – the flexible co-working space.
Proponents of these spaces say they could be the perfect bridge between home and office work – allowing for geographical flexibility whilst enabling workers to get some real face-time with their colleagues.
MEET THE EXPERT
Mathieu Proust is the general manager for the UK, Ireland and emerging markets at flexible space provider WeWork, overseeing all aspects of the company's business in these markets.
He began his career working for Microsoft in France before founding two companies, ScalesUp and VivaPics.
In 2014, he moved to the UK to join Uber where he became general manager of Uber Eats, rolling out the service to 40 cities and towns.
WHAT DOES PROUST SAY?
Flexible working spaces can help companies create a new kind of "urban spoke model," says Proust – with a central office in a big city, and any number of smaller spokes more geographically convenient for their employees. "The pandemic has shown that the office needs to have a new purpose of collaboration and energy, and we can provide that."
But it's not something a company can dive into without consultation: "Our member companies need to have a discussion with their staff to make sure any solution is the best for them."
And Proust says they are doing just that: "Companies around the world are having this discussion to define exactly what the best model is."
ALSO ON THE AGENDA:
• Global Workplace Analytics president Kate Lister explains how working from home, pandemic or no pandemic, can save employees three of their most precious commodities – their time, their money and their (mental) health.
• Heejung Chung from the University of Kent's school of social policy, sociology and social research explains how there could be real benefits to the new working normal – especially in bridging the gender pay and opportunities gap.
• Yasuhiro Kotera, academic lead in counseling, psychotherapy and psychology at the University of Derby, considers how employees and employers will have to work together to ensure the transition out of pandemic working practices is good for everyone.