Employees who want to work when are where they choose are increasingly calling the shots – alongside entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads.
Last year, research from IWG (Spaces’ parent company) revealed that 84% of 18-24-year-olds would prefer flexible working practices over adding 10% to their salary, indicating the value they place on having ownership of their work schedules and commuting habits.
For employers, the writing is on the wall. Not so long ago, being able to work from home or a more convenient workspace close to home was something that had to be negotiated with bosses, and more often than not they were hesitant to grant permission in case it set a precedent for others in the same company.
Gaining the upper hand
Hybrid working has catalysed the trend for ‘hyper flexibility’, which gives modern professionals the ability to shape their job around their lifestyle. Whereas before the pandemic employers were the ones setting the agenda, during the so-called ‘Great Rehiring’ of 2022 and beyond, it will be employees who determine what work looks like and how it should be integrated into their lives. As Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of IWG, puts it, “Hybrid working is no longer a ‘nice to have’.”
This is particularly the case for modern professionals. “Hybrid working is the number one thing candidates ask for as a requirement,” Caroline Copley, a senior manager specialising in finance and accounting at recruiter Robert Half, told the Financial Times. “There will be certain candidates that won’t even go to an interview if they aren’t offering a hybrid opportunity,” she added. “Flexibility is the big deal now,” concurs Bev White, Chief Executive of Harvey Nash, a specialist in tech recruitment. “People are out of love with long commutes.”
Have laptop, will travel
The entrepreneurs, founders and freelancers who have taken the trend of hyper flexibility one step further have been branded “digital nomads”.
Of the estimated 35 million digital nomads worldwide – defined as “people who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work anywhere in the internet-connected world” – a recent report revealed 61% are in their 20s or 30s.
Hyper flexibility, however, can present challenges. Finding safe, secure and reliable Wi-Fi to work from is often the biggest headache for digital nomads and this is where flexspace provides a stress-free solution.
A recent strategic collaboration between Microsoft and Spaces resulted in an office concept based at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, designed to create a community of experts and entrepreneurs. The workspace provides a comfortable and convenient base for digital nomads on the move, without compromising on secure Wi-Fi. (Darren Guccione, CEO and Co-Founder at Keeper Security recently explained ‘Why You Should Never Use Free Airport Wi-Fi’ in an article for Forbes, noting that “airports make ideal hunting grounds for cyber criminals”.)
Globally, a Spaces membership can provide access to more than 3,500 locations in more than 120 countries around the world. Not only is this convenient, but it can open up a whole world of opportunity through networking and collaborating with like-minded individuals, wherever in the world you may be.
A new working week
Meanwhile, canny companies are realising how to attract talent in this new world of work. According to flexible working consultancy Timewise, the proportion of job adverts offering flexible working has almost doubled to 26% since the beginning of the pandemic.
As employers increasingly focus on output and performance, rather than time spent sitting at a desk in a central office, we could see the adoption of other initiatives that challenge the traditional five-day, 9-5 paradigm.
For example, the four-day week has already been successfully trialled in countries such as Iceland and New Zealand. In the UK, more than 30 companies are taking part in a six-month trial of four-day working in an attempt to measure if workers can operate at 100% productivity for 80% of the time.