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In Focus: Are 'Flexible Workspaces' The New Normal Among Co-Working Spaces?

In Focus: Are 'Flexible Workspaces' The New Normal Among Co-Working Spaces?

COVID-19 has led companies around the world, including the Philippines, to adopt work-from-home policies that ensure the safety of its employees. While technology makes the set-up doable, remote working poses its own set of challenges including the lack of conducive space, distractions, and lower morale. Companies can nevertheless empower their people amid social distancing and are highly encouraged to continue remote work even after COVID-19 ends.

Nevertheless, returning to the workplace should not hinder social distancing practices. Companies can better promote it by segregating their workforce, e.g. alternative staffing, retaining their headquarters with supporting functions stationed in co-working spaces.

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Still, the question remains as to what these companies should expect when the country, like its Southeast Asian neighbors, scales back to operations.

Co-working space brand WeWork, through its Managing Director for Southeast Asia and Korea Turochas “T” Fuad, emphasized that collaborations will be essential to economic recovery, growth, and success.

Fuad said in a release, “I am encouraged by the speed and flexibility in which governments, business leaders, and companies have adapted during this challenging period from an operational standpoint. This has also allowed us to review how work operations can evolve to continue to support productivity, engagement, and innovation as we enter a new normal of professional distancing at workplaces."

“Having a workspace remains as a powerful tool to foster engagement, inspire innovation, and drive productivity. A well-designed one will further elevate the work environment and experience for employees, promoting better collaboration, comfort ,and happiness in the workplace. It is now even more important to provide employees with the confidence of a workplace that prioritizes their health and safety,” he added.

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In the brand's case, the WeWork SEA team has reviewed feedback and worked with industry partners as well as government bodies for weeks—to enhance its facilities. From modifying shared spaces with staggered seating and buffer zones to heightened cleaning and sanitization measures, its focus has funneled into three key areas: Prioritizing personal space, cleanliness, and behavioral signage.

Throughout the quarantine, WeWork has also arranged webinars and sessions with business leaders and members to sustain ongoing engagements and exchange of ideas. While aiding the continuity of business operations, the brand has subsequently learned how the pandemic also reinforced the need for physical workspaces.

“As many of our enterprise members have a global presence through us, they have been turning to us for counsel and guidance to navigate the evolving situation and ensure the safety of their employees across the region,” Fuad revealed.

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Flexible workspaces give enterprises of any size the ability to determine the amount of space they need. They likewise give enterprises of any size the ability to determine how much space is necessary for their business. COVID-19’s impact on the economy has thus furthered this model by influencing more organizations to take a conservative approach on lease flexibility (among other operational functions). 

In 2019, WeWork Philippines saw a 25% increase in enterprise members. With three times faster better speed-to-market than traditional options, end-to-end IT solutions, employee experience, proven security, and now post-COVID 19 solutions, the brand now stands to address long-term workspace needs as the country continues to attract both global and regional business. 

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Photographs courtesy of WeWork

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