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IWG on PropTech and The Future of Work

In a white paper written by IWG, the company outlines the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the way we work, as well as the way PropTech and WorkTech solutions will play a key role in optimizing the hybrid working environment of tomorrow.

International Workplace Group (IWG), the world’s largest flexible workspace organization with over 3,300 locations across 1200 cities worldwide, recently released a white paper in conjunction with Round Hill Ventures, a leading European PropTech venture capital firm with a track record of utilizing its LP innovation team to facilitate the integration of start-ups with LP’s assets. The report, titled “PropTech and the Future of Work,” analyzes the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on how people work and how PropTech and WorkTech solutions help employees, employers and asset managers overcome new challenges in the hybrid working environment.

“A return to pre-crisis working habits is unimaginable,” the report states. “The crisis revealed that more than ever, employees’ well-being must be the core focus for every employer. This is not only essential to win and retain talent, but it also has positive effects on productivity and, therefore, the overall economic strength of organizations. This affects not only working habits within organizations but also impacts the whole asset class of office real estate. In a world where workers are provided with greater flexibility to choose whether to work from home, in a coworking space or in the office, the implications for office owners are clear. Landlords need to embrace the new world of work, updating office HQs as spaces to meet and collaborate as well as building in flex and coworking space into their portfolios.”

The Post-COVID Workplace

According to IWG research, 67% of workers are happier in their job after having switched to a hybrid working set-up, and 76% of European employees would like to work in a flexible environment. Almost half of employees would quit their job if asked to return to the office five days a week. 72% of corporations plan to offer a flexible working model and therefore comply with their employees' requests.

As the way people want to work changes, IWG predicts that the future of work will be a satellite setting of a hybrid workforce, which works remotely from coworking spaces, home offices, other off-site locations or on-site at corporate HQs. The role of large, central HQs will be reduced and replaced with a smaller HQ and a hub-and-spoke model with satellite offices or coworking spaces. 

The Role of WorkTech

Tech solutions will be key to achieving this future, the report states. Technology will allow employers to manage office space in a hybrid working environment and equalize the hybrid working styles to overcome disadvantages for remote workers. 

For example, it is no secret that many workers miss the social interactions of the traditional workplace, but many WorkTech companies aim to provide solutions. The report points to U.S. start-up spatial.io, which turns office space into shared augmented workplaces. Tandem, another start-up, turns employees’ computers into a virtual office by enabling direct audio communication without needing to set up calls.

“Attracting employees to work from the office requires a significant change in the perception of what office space needs to offer in the future,” the report states. “When employees are free to choose between home, coworking spaces, and corporates’ offices, the office must compete in terms of comfort to enhance employees’ well-being. Grey walls, bright lights and bland decorations won’t be enough. Companies with well-designed offices will better retain and attract talent.”

The Role of PropTech

But it's not just the employees and employers who must prepare for major changes. Asset owners and office landlords are also in for some challenges in the future working environment. They must adapt their offer by providing space-as-a-service and flexible lease options to match new demands and working trends. Luckily, the report notes that several PropTech start-ups are addressing property managers and landlords and helping them find workarounds and opportunities for their existing office assets.

Switzerland-based start-up Locatee, for example, has pioneered and patented occupancy tracking based on an organization's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. Tenant experience platforms like the Dutch start-up Office-App help organizations to link the office to employees and ease working in the office. The office marketplace Kitt offers a service where asset owners and renter prospects are matched. The office space is designed according to the tenant's needs and manages the transition to a smart office.

The Future

With so many innovative PropTech and WorkTech start-ups entering the industry, the hybrid workspace market is highly dynamic. The report states there are “18 IPOs, 27 Unicorns, $35bn funding and 5% equity share of all global VC funding for future of work companies in the past three years, which underlines the importance of this sector.”

IWG has added two million users to its global network since the beginning of 2021, representing the largest increase in its 30-year history. IWG provides flexible workspaces in convenient locations alongside industry-leading technology, enabling teams to collaborate better and more seamlessly. It also offers shorter lease commitments, thereby allowing for ultimate flexibility. IWG companies help millions of people and their businesses to work more productively. It provides a choice of professional, inspiring and collaborative workspaces, communities and services.

Read the full article here.

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