The remote-working model that the pandemic imposed last year upon hundreds of millions of office-using employees—and their employers, not to mention their office landlords—has created new opportunities for work-life balance. However, Cushman & Wakefield’s Shaun Brodie reports, “it also presented productivity challenges as time went on.
“Millennials and Generation Z professionals living with parents, and those generations with children at home were especially impacted by space constraints. What’s more, the smaller the residence, the harder it’s been to come by dedicated home office space.”
In two markets known for limited domestic space availability, Singapore and Shanghai, there’s a third space solution—office pods. “Office pods are easily accessible rentable spaces structured around a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis,” Brodie writes in the latest edition of Cushman & Wakefield’s The Edge. “By establishing pods through both urban and suburban areas, professionals are given the flexibility to choose where they work—whether that’s closer to home or closer to where clients and colleagues may be located.”
Cushman & Wakefield’s head of occupier research in Greater China, Brodie cites the example of Switch, a Singapore-based venture launched by the former head of WeWork China. It has rolled out what it calls the “world’s first workplace on-demand platform.” With more than 30 locations established, Switch’s office pods and related rentable spaces include locations that range from shopping malls and hotels to offices and co-working spaces.
With commercial space increasingly competing for customers and tenants alike, commercial real estate investors and landlords could benefit from adding the office pod option to their properties. “A hotel, for example, could replace its business center with office pods, making them available only to loyalty-program tiered members or at a discounted rate for guests,” writes Brodie.
With 2020 in the rear-view mirror but the pandemic still very much a factor, employers all around the world are trying to gauge how the current work-from-home dynamic will impact their long-term portfolio strategies. “Since employees are proving they can do their jobs effectively while working remotely, some of the traditional arguments for clock-in, clock-out work culture are becoming less relevant,” writes Brodie. “Enabling employees to work from convenient and optimized third spaces could very well become an increasingly popular option for employers, especially as companies look to reassess their total office space requirements.”
He writes that employers should also consider office pod membership or subscriptions as part of their strategy to attract and retain talent. “By using office pods as an employee benefit, employers can offer an alternative space for those employees who aren’t productive at home or don’t want to commute to a central office, further expanding the talent pool beyond the immediate metro area.”
Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism.
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