Last edited 10 Jul 2020

Main author

David Trench Project Manager Website

Community offices

Workstation-336369 640.jpg

A JLL survey of 1,300 20-25 year olds in May 2020 following the Coronavirus lock down found:

  • A dramatic shift in staff appetite for home working.
  • An increase in numbers wanting to move home to acquire more private space for home working with faster broadband.

It appears that the appeal of home working is primarily influenced by wasted downtime and the inconvenience of commuting. Pre COVID-19, 2% of the population worked 3-4 days a week from home. Post COVID-19 (although still in the eye of the storm) 24% of respondents expressed a wish to work 3-4 days from home.

From a manager’s viewpoint, conventional offices will always be required for collaborative and creative activity as well as corporate cohesion. There are however compelling adverse environmental and health issues in relation to public and private transport, and there is accumulating evidence demonstrating to employers that home working is as productive as office working, with improved cognitive performance and better sleep patterns. In addition, one of the reasons given by those wanting to escape urban living, other than the affordability of house and garden space, is a greater sense of community living.

However, for all its advantages, home working also has its distractions. Productivity can be disturbed by family and domestic issues, and separation between work and social life is generally considered desirable. In addition, many houses simply do not have a space for a dedicated office.

As a result, there is an opportunity to provide small, intimate, local workspaces a stone’s throw away from residences in a form that is a cross between an community facility and a serviced office.

Facilities such as sports clubs, town and village halls often struggle to generate income when they are not being used for their primary activity, which can be as much as three quarters of the time. Changing work patterns may offer an opportunity to provide local communal office hubs available during working hours to people nearby who may otherwise be working from home.

Services might include:

Cost considerations for establishing such facilities might include; utilities and internet provision, catering and cleaning services, access and security services, layout changes, furnishings and so on.

Charges could be set by studying local serviced office facilities and might include:

  • Basic membership per month.
  • Workstation hire per day.
  • Meeting room hire per hour.
  • Food and beverage provision.
  • Photocopying and printing charges.

The resulting shift in working patterns could not only improve work/life balance and re-invigorate community facilities, it could relieve congestion in our cities and on our transport network and reduce the resulting carbon emissions.

--David Trench

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