The benefits of a flexible workspace
- Credit: Mantle Business Centres
The way many of us worked was already changing when the pandemic hit and hastened our requirements for increased flexibility.
Mantle Business Centres, which operates Kings Court in Stevenage, was ahead of the game in developing serviced office sites that catered for a variety of needs, explains assistant marketing manager Marie Gorman.
Here she outlines the benefits of a flexible workspace:
Q: Is flexible working a new concept?
A: No, it has been evident for some time now that many people want to work flexibly. This has been driven by changes in technology, making it easier for us to work remotely, as well as by economic factors: many people don’t want the cost of commuting anymore. They also want to spend more time with their families. This has just been accelerated by Covid-19.
As a property developer and serviced office operator, Mantle has been developing its sites over the past decade to ensure they offer the flexibility people are looking for. We now have seven business centres, most of which are in the east of England, and we pride ourselves on the retention of our customers, many of whom have been with us for a very long time.
We have developed a brand; everything is recognisable as being part of a Mantle business centre, from our design-led interiors to our furnishings.
Q: What kind of person wants to be able to work flexibly?
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A: It can be anyone from an individual to a company with 50 employees. Our tenants are largely service providers, such as accountants, IT workers and those in HR and recruitment. Some of them use our business centres for their satellite offices. They have a head office in London, for example, but have another base elsewhere with other teams of people who want to be closer to home.
Our customers could be anyone who wants to be able to expand and contract their business without ending up paying for space they are not using. It might be a company or an individual that wants to be able to bring people in for a short-term contract only – and we can accommodate that.
Q: What are flexible workspaces like?
A: Well, Kings Court, for example, was an old head office building, conveniently located within walking distance of the town centre and the mainline station, with frequent services to London King’s Cross.
A London-based firm of architects oversaw its complete renovation and we opened it in 2017. It has almost 200 desks and, like all our business centres, features a stylish interior. There is a front of house team that looks after everything on our clients’ behalf, so they can just plug in and go. When people rent space from us, they also get a service.
Q: What are the advantages of having a flexible workspace?
A: People like to work in different ways. Some like to come into an office, but they don’t want to be tied to a desk all day long and they want other facilities. We have meeting rooms, a phone booth for those who want quiet conversations and high tables if people just want a chat with a colleague, so there’s a bit of variety. There are private offices, co-working spaces and 'home-flexi' options, where you can come into an office for some of the time and work from home on other days.
We also offer a virtual office service for those who work somewhere else but want us to take calls for them and receive their post. People can choose an option to suit their needs and budget – and we have a whole range of different possibilities. But whichever option you go for, having a front of house team to deal with things for you can save high costs and valuable time.
Q: What are the benefits to your clients of coming into an office?
A: They enjoy the communal aspect of it, mixing with other people and companies who share the space: this is great because there can be real opportunities for collaboration. We also host in-house networking events, where we bring in other businesses, and, again, this gives people the opportunity to network and make valuable connections.
While some people want to work from home some of the time, they also enjoy coming into an office too. Perhaps they don’t have a dedicated workspace at home or it may be noisy and distracting.
In terms of career development, it can be very useful to have colleagues and mentors in the office with you to give you support. It is also good for mental wellbeing to interact with others and to have a distinction between your home and working lives.
When you walk away from the office, you leave your work behind you and can switch off. We have a focus on wellbeing in all our offices: their beautiful interiors inspire productivity and creativity and make our buildings nice places to come and work.