Rethinking your traditional office space
What’s best? A home office or your company HQ? A new study reveals there has been a recent step-change in business attitudes, writes Andrew Fairgray from 2degrees. This year has seen one of the biggest changes to the way we work since the Industrial Revolution. Many businesses, no matter the size, have had to rapidly adjust […]
What’s best? A home office or your company HQ? A new study reveals there has been a recent step-change in business attitudes, writes Andrew Fairgray from 2degrees.
This year has seen one of the biggest changes to the way we work since the Industrial Revolution. Many businesses, no matter the size, have had to rapidly adjust their working styles as Covid-19 changed the way we live our lives.
Our 2degrees Shaping Business Study asked more than a thousand business decision-makers about their attitudes to work post-April lockdown, and a key takeaway is that one in five (19 percent) are reconsidering the idea of a traditional office space.
While some office-based businesses were already embracing mobile working pre-Covid, the pandemic tested this to the extreme over the April lockdown. It’s clear that many businesses found they were better set up for remote working than they anticipated, and now know they have the capability to work from anywhere. It’s also clear that the Level 4 lockdown has truly demonstrated the value of flexible working to SMEs in a range of sectors.
Collaboration or cupboard space?
2degrees is one of these businesses and, since the April lockdown we’ve been supporting our 100 percent New Zealand-based team to work remotely more often. The lessons we learned from the lockdown have also translated into design changes for our new head office building on Fanshawe Street, in Auckland. When we move in next year, we will have fewer desks and more collaboration spaces, and the change in our work patterns will enable us to move from two Auckland offices, to one.
We’ve got a pretty special culture at 2degrees and, while most of our team enjoy the flexibility that comes with our new approach, we’ve also been working to ensure our people are just as connected as they were when they saw each other in the office every day.
The businesses we talked to for the study said the same thing – 46 percent reported their priority during lockdown was ensuring their staff felt supported and didn’t feel isolated. However, it also found that only eight percent of SMEs see the need for a collaborative space for their team as a reason to keep an office. In fact, a third of businesses are only looking to keep their office space for storage or logistical reasons. The low level of importance placed on in-person collaboration suggests many have become at ease with holding meetings, brainstorms and Friday night drinks over video calls.
The right tools for the job
Keeping that sense of connection between team members, no matter where everyone is working from, comes down to having the right tools. Our study found the top two forms of technology SME owners/operators couldn’t live without over the April lockdown were home broadband (34 percent) and mobile phones (27 percent).
This highlights how important these tools are as enablers of mobile working, something we also saw in the dramatic shift in the use of mobile data and broadband from business districts to the suburbs by 2degrees customers in the week that Level 4 lockdown was announced in March.
The increase in remote working, and use of home broadband connections, emphasises the importance of data security for businesses – no matter the size. However, our research found that 41 percent of small Kiwi businesses don’t have a security resource in place. Along with the tools to stay connected, it is vital that companies make sure they have the resources in place to protect their data and equipment against threats and breaches.
Education is also an important part of this mix, making sure that businesses are aware of the types of threats out there, and why protection is important. Our study found nearly one in three (29 percent) still don’t consider data security a priority, so continuing to inform businesses about the importance of cyber protection will be fundamental to help keep businesses secure over the next few months, and years.
Ultimately, what our Shaping Business Study shows is how important adaptability continues to be for Kiwi businesses, especially while the future is so uncertain. It’s businesses with the right tools that are best positioned to survive, and even thrive, as they adopt new ways of working and embrace our new normal.
Andrew Fairgray (pictured above) is chief business officer at 2degrees.