Workplace brief: The Office Group
Understanding the new competitor landscape
The Office Group is home to one of the most creative, exciting and forward-thinking working communities in the UK. TOG provides more than 50 flexible workspaces in the UK and Germany – with the majority spread across London.
As a business that relies on workers being present in its physical spaces, TOG understands the importance of good design and creating productive environments to support a positive work experience. When the world went into lockdown in March 2020 and employees were sent home by their respective organisations to carry out their daily work activities, TOG’s workspaces were, for the first time, almost empty.
The office, and crucially the future office had a new competitor. The home office! As such, TOG made the strategic decision to deploy Leesman’s Home Working Experience Survey as a rapid and systematic way of understanding how working from home was impacting TOG members and their productivity.
“It’s so important to constantly re-evaluate what people want and need from their work spaces, especially now as things continue to change and we face the ongoing impact of the pandemic,” says Olly Olsen, the co-founder and co-CEO of TOG.
“Business are thinking twice about committing to long term leases – this has been the case for some time, but recent events are accelerating this change in mindset to work space provision. As such, we’re ensuring that the spaces we have on offer support people with what they’ve missed during this period, so that they can do their best work in them. The data we have gathered has allowed us to pinpoint what’s missing for people working from home, and what they need going forward.”
Taking a proactive approach to the future
To remain competitive, when in this instance the competitor was the home environment, TOG needed to look at the things members found easier and more seamless at home – the things they found important for their work and were supported with. TOG needed to then ensure it was able to offer these things in its workplaces first and foremost, to remain their members’ preferred work environment in the future.
What was missing for TOG members while at home was undoubtedly the social interaction of using a shared workspace.
The findings showed that only 54% of members felt connected to their colleagues when they worked from home, and 62% felt connected to their organisation. 56% of members also felt as though they couldn’t learn from others while at home.
When working from home, members showed some stand out statistics that related to how positively they found collaboration through technology, indicating how well IT teams managed the process of getting employees successfully set up for home working.
• 84% felt they had access to the IT devices and tools they needed and 92% had access to all the software programs / applications they needed
• 94% felt their home environment supported them with video conferencing
• 94% also felt their home environment supported them with audio conferencing
As members’ experience of technology is largely positive at home, TOG needed to meet these expectations when workers return to TOG spaces, and ensure the experience is as even better. They therefore need to be provided with the ability to use spaces for collaborating with colleagues not on site with them – for example, Zoom rooms, lounge spaces, meeting rooms and general office spaces (if office members).
The existing Leesman+ database shows that 82% of employees feel their workplace is a place they’re proud to bring visitors to. It’s clear that many TOG members decide to use TOG spaces due to the fact it gives them a professional experience and environment to welcome visitors into. While it’s appreciated that the visitor experience will not be the same for some time, this is something that is a crucial USP for TOG and a noticeable motivation behind memberships.
A little over half of all members feel they were able to have larger group meetings successfully at home, so clearly a great deal are not finding virtual collaboration as successful as anticipated / expected when it comes to meetings where more people are involved.
While all members make use of meeting rooms and hosting visitors, lounge areas are often used for informal collaborations and smaller meetings. TOG’s coworking and lounge members are struggling to share ideas / knowledge amongst colleagues (60% and 52% respectively) while at home. Something many find it important to do in their daily working lives.
What is clear from the findings is that the benefits of TOG membership go far beyond being able to use a physical space. TOG had already recognised this and offers a ‘virtual office membership’ to its members, which allows members to have their office address listed in a prime location, without physically having to be there. At a time when there’s so much uncertainty, particularly when it comes to real estate, a reliable business base is a rare find.