How soaring bills are changing the way we work

Businesses and employees alike have tricky times ahead. With record energy prices and inflation forcing people to rethink the way they work, many are turning to hybrid working and flexspace to provide a solution.

With utility costs rising to record levels, businesses and workers will have to make meaningful efficiencies in the way they function. Working from home loses some of its appeal when it comes time to put the heating on, and running large office spaces, with all of those overheads, may become too much for some companies.

Hybrid working and flexspace can provide the solution that many people are looking for during these volatile financial times. Workers can base themselves in offices close to their homes, where the heating is on and they don’t need to stare at the smart meter every time they use the kettle. Likewise, businesses can cut their overheads by sharing space and using only what they need.

Balancing act

A recent survey of 2,000 remote workers by MoneySuperMarket found that 14% of respondents are planning to spend more time working in offices to reduce their personal energy bills. The true cost of working from home permanently has been much debated, and estimates range from £47 a month extra, all the way up to £131 – there are many variables ranging from the size of your home to how many screens you have to run. Whatever it is, it will almost certainly rise over the coming months. Natural gas prices in Europe are already five times more than they were a year ago, according to the Financial Times.

Indeed, IWG research found that in both the Netherlands and Belgium, around half of workers want to go into the office more regularly because of high energy costs at home. Companies are therefore turning to the vast network of companies like IWG, which can allow employees to work in a professional environment near their home without having to commute into city centre HQs.

Obviously, the energy costs of working from home have to be balanced against the cost of transport, which is also, in almost all cases, rising. As Guardian columnist Jane Parry, writes: “As train fares continue to outstrip inflation, organisations staffed by suburban commuters are likely to find employees continue to be more attached to working from home to save money, while those who live closer to offices may find the lure of a heated space outweighs the benefits of home working.” It’s a tricky equilibrium.

15-minute commute

Anyone who experienced a cold winter lockdown will remember the chill that came from being at home all of the time, and the guilt of turning on the heating before its allotted hour. This is where flexspace, and the 15-minute commute concept really wins out. To have an office available close to home negates the need for commuting costs to factor in workers’ money maths, and it takes the pressure off home energy usage.

Many companies are also taking advantage of the reach that flexible office space can offer. For example, IWG’s 2021 deal with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) enabled its 300,000 employees to work from any of IWG’s 3,500 workspaces globally. It is all part of an overall vision of the future of work, in which IWG CEO Mark Dixon imagines “a professional workspace available everywhere – from the largest city to the smallest village”. It is a vision that offers variety, no commuting costs, and no need to take on the personal cost burden of working from home.

Business savings

These savings aren’t just for the benefit of the workers though. Businesses too can save money by moving away from big, permanent office space and embracing a flexible approach. Many hospitality companies have warned that they may have to ‘mothball’ over the winter as bills rise out of control.

Chef Tom Kerridge said his energy bills will increase from £5,000 to £30,000 a month at one of his pubs. Offices may not have ovens to heat and food to cook, but they do have staff to warm, lights to keep on, tech to run, security to employ and all of the other very many overheads involved. In fact, among the global Fortune 500 CEOs recently surveyed by IWG, 74% said they plan to reduce office space and two thirds of CFOs target a facilities spend reduction of more than 10% per year. With independent research revealing that hybrid working could save businesses more than $11,000 per employee per year on overheads, it’s little wonder that 82% of CFOs believe hybrid is the more affordable business model going forward.

Moving to flexspaces and coworking offices relieves a great deal of financial burden and allows an agility so that businesses can respond quickly to new challenges. It’s a bold move, but perhaps an inevitable one, and certainly one that an increasing number of companies are taking.

If you think moving to local flexspaces could help your company weather the energy crisis, check out our services and get in touch.

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