Why WNH (working near home) is the new WFH

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Flexible workspaces in local locations offer a distraction-free, professional environment with no inconvenient commute. As Covid-19 recedes, could working near home be the future?

The corporate world has seen a working from home (WFH) revolution over the past year, with many previously sceptical business leaders waking up to its benefits. Reduced commuting has meant increased productivity for many employees, as well as the flexibility to work in ways that fit around family life and personal projects. For many of us, though, being based at home full-time has long since lost its sparkle. There are downsides to working where you live.

During lockdown, millions of people were thrown into working at home alongside partners and pets – not to mention children, in the case of families who had to undertake home schooling. But aside from the obvious domestic distractions, there are other issues with long-term working from home: dwindling motivation, Zoom fatigue, feelings of isolation and the struggle to stay creative without colleagues to bounce ideas off.

When you’re living at work, it can also be hard to switch off at the end of the day – and that’s when boundaries between your work and home lives become blurred. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the average working day increased by 48.5 minutes during lockdown, equivalent to two extra working days a month. Not only can this cause employees to burn out but, if you’re still answering emails at 9pm, it can cause friction in relationships, too.

Working near home

Nevertheless, the pandemic has shown us that a different way of working – away from a central office – is possible. Employers in many sectors seem to have accepted workers’ need for more flexibility and a shorter commute, post-pandemic.

Working near home (WNH) could be the solution that enables companies to make hybrid working a permanent part of people’s lives. Models such as hub-and-spoke mean recasting the corporate HQ as a space for collaboration (a ‘hub’), rather than a base from which people are expected to work day-to-day. When employees aren’t required for meetings, they’re given the freedom to work from satellite locations (‘spokes’), such as local flexible workspaces.

Regus centres have been opened up to more than a million new customers in the first half of 2021 through IWG’s deals with international firms such as EY, NTT and Standard Chartered bank, all of whom have chosen to commit to the hub-and-spoke model for good.

Offering the convenience of working near home with the advantages of regular face-to-face interactions with colleagues, it’s an approach that offers benefits both for employees and business leaders.

What’s more, flexspaces such as Regus centres offer calm, well set up environments that are conducive to concentration. Not only will you enjoy a professional workplace set-up and reliable WiFi at your local flexible workspace, you won’t be interrupted by family members.

Just as importantly, when you leave at the end of the day and head back to your partner, housemates or family, there’ll be a clear demarcation between ‘work you’ and ‘home you’.

Flexspace and the 15-Minute City

WNH also dovetails with the increasingly popular concept of the 15-Minute City. Devised by Professor Carlos Moreno of the Sorbonne, this idea envisages the redevelopment of cities and towns into neighbourhoods where everything people need to live, work and play is within a 15-minute walk or cycle ride.

Already a core part of government policy in locations as diverse as Paris, New York, Portland and Ipswich, the 15-Minute City will shape town planning all over the world in the aftermath of Covid-19 – and flexible workspaces have an important part to play in realising it. Local flexspaces help to support workers’ productivity at the same time as empowering them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

As the way we work continues to evolve, WNH offers the flexibility that both companies and their employees are seeking – and it’s likely to become a core component of the ‘new normal’.

As Mark Dixon, IWG CEO, says: “People have proved in recent months to be effective and productive not just at home, but also in offices ‘around the corner’. Just when local cities and towns seemed to be dying, Covid-19 may have come along and saved them. People want to work close to where they live. It’s going to stick.”

With thousands of suburban locations all across the world, find out how Regus can help your company pivot towards Working Near Home