Back to an office, maybe not THE office

How the Hub and Spoke Office Model could be the future of work.

The pandemic has shown that many organisations who may have initially been against their workforce working from home, can successfully work entirely remotely. It has however revealed the drawbacks of a dispersed, home-bound workforce. The lack of in-person collaboration is starting to wear on workers, whose days are filled with back-to-back video calls. There is a desire for face-to-face collaboration, with our recent poll showing that 72% of people want some aspect of office life in their work week. Our recent blog described remote working being on the way down to the trough of disillusionment. Conversations are taking place on productivity, with some questions over whether productivity is falling in those working from home.

As we start to plan yet another “back to the office” strategy, we will likely see a widespread rethink of how companies use their space. With many employees expected to continue working remotely after the pandemic, and not everyone ready to jump back into the big city offices, companies need to accommodate these changes and find a balance – which could come in the form of offering office spaces closer to employees’ homes. The ‘hub and spoke’ approach is a model that we could see more of. This involves having a main office, the ‘hub’, and a number of smaller, widespread branch offices, the ‘spokes’.

Adopting the hub & spoke work model allows companies to downsize their city centre office – lowering overheads, rent, expenses, and business rates – whilst maintaining brand image. It would also reduce the need for workers to use public transport and it would also offer an effective working environment. The office is not going away. It is changing. Employees can continue to work from home. They can also work from offices near where they live, and then they go to the headquarters to do important stuff: meet, collaborate, new ideas, business review, the stuff you need to do face-to-face.

Benefits for workers

The lack of in-person collaboration and its effect on our wellbeing is the top reason to get workers back into an office environment. These in-person experiences are important for collaboration, innovation, and overall productivity of employees. For those who face a long commute to the city could reduce the hours spent on a train or in a car, creating a better work/life balance for them and ultimately lead to higher productivity and output for the business.

Benefit for employers

The use of flexible offices could enable workspace to be used more efficiently by allowing workers to use it as and when they need it, helping to save on overheads. A larger geographical footprint equals a broader audience, and customer and client reach. This also creates opportunities to hire from a much larger talent pool. With a centralised city office, businesses are often limited to applications from those unaffected by commute distance, time and cost. That means the majority of the country’s talent is lost on your business. Individuals who might be the key to your future success could be hired by your competitors instead.

Benefits for the environment

There would also be environmental benefits of more people working locally. Fewer cars on the road making long commutes as well as a decrease in the number of people using public transport.

Clearly, the office isn’t dead, but it is evolving. The pandemic presents opportunities to rethink our approach to them role the modern workplace had in the “new normal”, and the advantages of geographic diversity.