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the rise of hybrid working

01 September 2022

With the events of 2020 accelerating the change in the use of workspace, what impact are employers, property developers and landlords finding as a result of the new working normal.

According to Advanced Workspace Associate’s (AWA) Hybrid Working Index launched in June 2022 which tracks the development of hybrid working strategies and office attendance across nearly 80 offices in 13 countries, there appears to have been a seismic shift and it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon!

The key findings from the report highlighted that:

  • Average attendance in offices was just 26% with peaks in the middle of the week
  • Workers prefer to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (TWaT) with 88% of people working at home on Fridays.
  • Organisations with hybrid working policies have higher attendance than those who do not. However, for those with hybrid working policies, attendance is far lower than expected –and at best 42%.

Additionally, CIPD, the body supporting human relations, hybrid working has elevated employee expectations and desires, and this may feed into the talent recruitment process.

As service providers, we are also embracing these trends and adapting our commercial model to support our clients’ repurposed assets and their new demand profile. Here are some of the ways we’re supporting clients to reshape their activities and share our Top 5 insights for the New Normal.

1. Focus on enhancing the worker and guest experience

As longer-term structural changes in the property management market are accelerated workplaces have evolved into the cultural centres of organisations, focused on collaboration, mentorship, social interaction and belonging.

The workplace experience is critical for returning employees both in terms of rebuilding company culture after long periods of working from home but also in redefining the new culture of flexible working. The “hotelification” of offices and providing a 5-star experience requires exemplary customer service as well as high service standards. A customer service philosophy, supported by training, has become as important as the technical aspects of many roles.

We are fortunate that the NJC DNA, the willingness and capability of all our colleagues to ‘go the extra mile’, has for many years been the foundation of our customer centric approach and we have reinforced this by customer service training.

2. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments should be aligned with clients and deliver real benefit.

Delivering measurable benefits and improvements through the delivery of our service provision needs to be aligned with the Environmental and Social commitments of our clients. As buildings account for approximately 40% of the world’s energy consumption and a third of all carbon emissions. We all have a responsibility to reduce the impact of our activities and to help our clients reduce the carbon footprint of their properties.

At NJC, we are committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2030 and are already implementing our action plan. In Oct 2020 we started to convert our vehicles to electric, which saves more than 48 tonnes of carbon emissions and improves air quality. We are promoting chemical-free cleaning solutions, which have zero emissions in production/transportation, zero litres of chemicals used, zero cardboard waste generated and zero single use plastic waste.

Building on this, we have sought external verification of our efforts and were delighted to achieve EcoVadis Gold certification in our audit. The EcoVadis assessment reflects the quality of NJC’s sustainability management system with the gold medal indicating that we are in the top 5% of companies that have been assessed.

3. Implement a Demand-led Approach

As the Internet of Things (IOT) and integration of systems and technology provides greater transparency of usage data to facilitate the redeployment of resources to meet the flexibility of the workspace. It will allow better targeting of resources to demand, support service skills and working patterns will be redefined based upon usage patterns and resulting service needs. This will see a redefinition of certain support roles, particularly where multi-disciplinary roles are required.

By working in partnership with clients through sharing meeting room and hot desk bookings info, security access and footfall data, in conjunction with our own footfall data collection, resourcing efficiency can be re-focused on the areas used, rather than having to visit and clean areas that haven’t.

At NJC, we are utilising data analytics for service design, delivery, benchmarking, continuous improvement and governance, to ensure the best service and we constantly review opportunities as technology improves.

4. Amalgamate workspace roles and responsibilities

At NJC, we believe that for those workspaces that are service resource intensive, such as building reception areas, business lounges and serviced offices, the delivery of soft services by separate teams of cleaners, business support co-ordinators, security officers and receptionists is an outdated model, with an unsustainable commercial envelope.

The flexibility in workplace use will need to be matched by flexibility in support service behaviours and our Workspace Champion role is very much targeted to key workspaces where multiple service streams exist. The newly designed role focuses on the new service requirements of the individual workspace with a reduction in role definitions, with hygiene, housekeeping, safety and customer service at its core to meet the requirements of the New Normal.

5. Upskill existing teams

With the general trend of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (TWaT) hybrid working pattern now established, utilising resources to deliver what would have been considered intrusive cleaning tasks and typically done out of hours, can now be fulfilled during quieter office periods without disruption.

At NJC, we provide our operatives with specialist training onsite to enable them to carryout deep and restorative cleans that would previously have been done outside of the contractual hours and by separate teams at additional cost.

The investment in expanding the skills and capabilities of our workspace operatives helps deliver best value for our clients, whilst supporting our own employees career development aspirations, a key part of our retention strategy.

Whatever the definition of the new normal, Hybrid working appears to be here to stay.

Despite the removal of regulations, people are not returning to pre-covid travel patterns preferring to work Hybrid. Offices in most sectors, are under-occupied which, if this trend continues, will result in excess space being re-purposed and sub-let. This will have a profound impact on the property market and put pressure on businesses to evolve their working practices, processes and skills to support the hybrid working models.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to find out more about how NJC could support your hybrid working plans!

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Our team are here to help with any questions, and to show where NJC can add real value to your company and customer experience. So why not get in touch via chat, our online form or call us on 0345 395 1000 and one of our sales team will be happy to assist.