The rise of the flexible workspace

BY Richard Taylor

You’ll surely have seen an article with this or a similar title in recent times, celebrating how individuals and companies are working differently, smarter and with more freedom.

Which is wonderful for them. But where does the travel industry fit into this new world? What does this age of flexibility have in store for us?

Of course, we diversified long ago. Countless people went to work from home or, thanks to technology, found themselves able to work from coffee shops, ‘on the road’ or indeed from anywhere else that suited them.

The employers of these modern workers have had to adapt too. It’s no longer possible to eye up a long, restrictive lease with any certainty of how many desks, chairs and meeting rooms will be needed. What are our staffing requirements? How many will work from home? What if we grow, or there is a downturn?

Enter the coworking space. Whilst the serviced office has been around for many years, offering an identikit and often humourless box within an office of many others, coworking is booming the world over. There are now more than 19,000 spaces globally, hosting an estimated 3 million coworkers.

Why? It’s the community they offer. Where other forms of flexible working provide acceptable business functionality, coworking spaces offer both a funkier environment and a sense of belonging that cannot be quantified on paper. It’s about the vibe, the functions they hold, the networking, the learning and development on offer. Making friends.

And it works. 89% of coworkers report being happier in their environment, and whilst we’re talking statistics consider this: by 2025 over 75% of the global workforce will be millenials that will demand more from their workspace. In the US it’s already commonplace for large companies to offer coworking membership to remote or home-based staff for their mental wellbeing, and, make no mistake, this will come to Australia.

Ensuring that travel remains ahead of the game, we’ve launched the Travel Industry Hub. The first industry-specific space on these shores, it’s complete with offices, desks and meeting rooms, but also event facilities and space for training, launches and more.

We’re targeting home workers feeling isolated, road warriors, teams, and a variety of others to create an eclectic mix of travel and tourism people. Somewhere you can drop into and have things in common with those around you. Perhaps the next evolution in coworking.

Through hundreds of conversations across the industry, it’s clear that, while we may have the ability to be mobile, the need for an office and interaction with others will never disappear.

Richard Taylor is the co-founder of the Travel Industry Hub, the first industry-specific coworking space in the APAC region. Richard is the former Chief Operating Officer of inbound tour operator Equity Travel Group and has held sales positions at travel technology companies Navitas Solutions and Travelport.

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