Why risk managers are suddenly interested in flexible working
The workspace revolution is being driven by digitisation and increased connectivity
The coronavirus, Brexit, recurring Facebook privacy breaches and the Gillette #MeToo campaign – they all remind us that business and life as we know it can change without a moment’s notice. Risk managers are hit hardest, having to pre-empt and manage a growing array of left-field risks and new technologies that didn’t even exist until recently. But risk managers have a new weapon in their arsenals – flexible working.
We have entered a workspace revolution powered by digitisation and increased connectivity. IWG, the parent company of flexible workspace providers Regus and Spaces in SA, recently surveyed 19,000 businesspeople in 96 countries. The results most relevant to risk managers showed that 73% of respondents said flexible working helped them mitigate risk.
Using flexible working, and a connected property strategy, as tools for risk management is a relatively new trend, and is expected to grow significantly as more businesses understand the new workspace strategies available to them.
The shift in the way we work means that businesses are increasingly studying how flexible working can help them grow. As part of that, they are also discovering how it can help them manage different types of risk.
Firstly, financial risk. Real-estate company JLL estimated that by 2030, 30% of corporate real estate will be flexible – that’s three out of every 10 buildings. A big reason companies are using so much flexible work space is cost. Companies can save significant costs on real estate that they outsource. Reducing long-term leases, capital expenditure and overall costs provides a financial boost that helps reduce financial risk.
IFRS 16 (International Financial Reporting Standard), which puts leased assets onto a business’s balance sheet – was also a trigger for more businesses to take advantage of the broader benefits of flexible workspaces on the balance sheet.
A recent study found that 87% of workers would like the option to work flexibly.
Secondly, and linked, is strategic risk: global businesses need to expand and move into new territories to be closer to customers, employees and suppliers.
To do this successfully often demands commitment, but it can be challenging to understand what level of commitment is required. Do you want to sign a long lease on an office only to discover that the opportunity didn’t materialise? And then find yourself tied to that office, with the overheads it requires, while you identify a fresh opportunity in another market?
A flexible workspace strategy negates this risk. Flexible working is not simply about personal employee productivity (although this is a key advantage); it is also about ensuring that businesses of all sizes have the agility to seize an opportunity.
Thirdly, talent retention: in a connected, extremely competitive world, business success is determined by talent. The expectations and demands of employees are changing and indeed, that of top talent. A recent study found that 87% of workers would like the option to work flexibly. And by that they don’t mean working from home one day a week; they mean the chance to work on the move, explore new locations, and fit their work commitments around their life commitments. If you can deliver that, your appeal as an employer will rocket.
A flexible workspace strategy offers talent a package that they know will enable them to be their most productive, without compromising their work-life balance unnecessarily. It also helps a business to retain that talent – at all levels of the company. That is a key factor in ensuring that ambitious, global businesses keep one of their most important differentiators – their people.
Finally, flexible workspace strategies can give risk managers peace of mind that they have a plan in place for those unforeseen events that can play havoc with business continuity from a physical and digital perspective. Having a flexible workspace provider as your recovery partner means you are not tied down to any one location and can adopt a location recovery strategy at any time.
Best of all, you can test the business when and where you want. This also has benefits in terms of network security - if your network is compromised you can use a flexible workplace supplier’s network instead. A properly networked flexible workplace partner can provide this.
The flexible workplace revolution has transformed how individuals view office life. Now business leaders are recognising the specific strategic and financial benefits that it will bring to organisations of all sizes. Central to that is how it will help them to mitigate against threats and seize opportunities. That’s why the smartest risk managers are paying close attention to their property portfolios and flexible working.
This article was paid for by Regus.