Flexible Workspaces Make the 15-Minute Commute a Reality

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Dave Carter - Head of Marketing

Written by Dave Carter

If your commute is 28 minutes, the average for the UK, you’ll spend nine 24-hour days – or 13,216 minutes commuting. If you look at this time in terms of the conventional eight-hour working day, your commute could be longer than your permitted annual time off– at 27 days vs 25.

It’s perhaps not surprising that long commutes make us miserable. The UK’s Office for National Statistics has found that “commuters have lower life satisfaction, a lower sense that their daily activities are worthwhile, lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety on average than non-commuters”. In fact, if your commute takes longer than an hour, feelings of happiness decrease with every successive minute of travel, not to mention increasing costs.

The pandemic has paved the way for more of us to work flexibly and for businesses to look more closely at office options closer to workers homes. In this article we look at how the latest changes in the workplace are making the 15-minute commute a reality for many.

Rising Demand for Regional Workspace

From the start of the pandemic there has been strong demand for regional workspace as companies have looked to move away from dense city centre locations and remote workers have struggled to adjust to full time home working. Demand for regional workspace has outstripped that for Central London and some suburban locations have seen occupancy rates at 85%, even during lockdowns.

With the trend towards flexible working accelerating, employees are becoming more empowered to choose when, where and how they work. Forward thinking companies are capitalising on this demand and reaping the benefits of increased workspace agility, turning it into a key selling point to attract the best talent. 

Hub and Spoke Office Strategies

A growing number of business leaders are now looking to adopt a ‘hub and spoke’ office model as more of their staff work from home. New research reveals that more than a third (37%) of business leaders are considering downsizing their primary office space and creating smaller satellites closer to where their employees live.

The ‘hub’ or HQ remains in a city centre – albeit smaller – but continues to act as the ‘face’ of the brand where client and larger team meetings can be held. ‘Spokes’ are much smaller and versatile regional flexible offices closer to where employees live – often designed in a flexible format to accommodate a variety of different teams.

It’s the growth in supply of flexible private, serviced and coworking offices that is enabling business leaders to take a more agile approach to their office strategy. Historically inflexible traditional office leases of five years and more did not allow the flexibility for companies to provide office space that works for their employees in terms of different locations and the types of space available.

Standard Chartered PLC is one of the early adopters of the “work near home” approach. The emerging markets bank says it will “push the boundaries” for half of its 85,000 staff, who work in nine of the 55 countries where it operates. From 2021, it will offer those employees the option of heading to a “near home” location, which it will rent from a flexible workspace provider.

The 15-minute commute is here

“Work near home” means employees can access high-quality, convenient flexible workspace which allows them to get out of the house and work alongside other people. This helps to combat many of the problems of working from home, while retaining its benefits, giving employees what they need and helping to reduce real estate costs.

Work near home is a much-needed option that gives employees more flexibility and a more modern way of working, and provides employers with a viable alternative to long term leases or exclusive home working. Bring on the 15-minute commute!

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