Global bank inks deal with flex office provider IWG that grants employees access to its locations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the business world and commercial real estate industry to ponder the future of the physical office, as remote work became front and center for a better part of 2020. While some companies are sticking with the telework model either indefinitely or permanently and others are making their way back to the traditional office schedule, Standard Chartered Group recently announced it will use a hybrid work strategy, Bisnow reports.
Standard Chartered Group, one of the largest banks in the world, recently signed a deal with flexible office space provider IWG. The company’s 90,000 workers around the world will have access to any of IWG’s 3,500 global locations for a 12-month trial period. IWG operates multiple flex space brands such as REGUS, Spaces, HQ, Openoffice and The Clubhouse.
Why Standard Chartered is going hybrid
“We’ve taken a data-led approach, so we’ve dialed up the listening with our colleagues significantly,” Standard Chartered Group Head of Human Resources Tanuj Kapilashrami said recently. “We ran three surveys last year, and the data was very clear. More than 75% of our colleagues globally wanted to work flexibly at least 50% of the time. That was very important, as it showed us we needed to design the future based around what our colleagues wanted, not our preferences.”
Standard Chartered Group told its staff in November that it planned to move towards a hybrid work model. A number of employees would have the option to work remotely more regularly in 2021, particularly in the company’s top 10 markets. More staff is expected to get this option through 2023, Bisnow reports. The company looked at the type of jobs its employees were doing and analyzed the best way to perform them.
“Our aim is not just about increasing home working or flexible working, it’s about redesigning jobs, so analyzing the different types of job-families our colleagues do and taking a view on how these jobs are going to be done in future,” Kapilashrami said in a discussion with IWG Chief Executive Mark Dixon. “And what we found was 80% of those jobs can be done more flexibly.”
The company’s analysis made it realize it needed to change its current office makeup, as well as offer employees the opportunity to work in other locations.
“Our colleagues said 70 to 80% of our workspace is not based around task-based work, collaborative work,” Kapilashrami said. “Going forward, colleagues wanted the majority of the workplace to be designed around places where people could come together and collaborate. So we are redesigning our workplaces, but we also made it clear that flexible work is not just about home working. We absolutely recognize the value that our colleagues have in coming together, collaborating and working creatively, so we wanted to give them the option to come together and have somewhere to work near home.”
How Standard Chartered’s hybrid work model will function
In line with the office portion of the hybrid model, Standard Chartered Group has looked at where IWG’s locations and where employees are positioned so they can a find an office within walking distance of their home. One concern however is if financial information that a client like Standard Chartered possesses would be as safe at an IWG location as it would at one of the company’s actual offices. Dixon noted companies will need to determine the best way to manage who is in which IWG building at what time or who’s working remotely to get the most out of the arrangement.
“It’s like when you’re young and you take your first flight, you don’t quite know the system, but when you’ve done it once you get the hang of it,” he said. “And in two or three years’ time, not adopting hybrid working will be like not adopting email 20 years ago. If you understand and manage the technology well, it can be a huge boost to people’s productivity.”
Standard Chartered will also measure how and when its employees use the offices in IWG’s remote network and see how it impacts productivity, according to Bisnow.
“A lot of critics of flexible working have said that productivity is going to come down, and my challenge to them is, productivity has been used interchangeably with presenteeism (working while sick),” Kapilashrami said. “We believe that by leveraging technology well we can enhance productivity.”
The company did not say if these changes would lead to it decreasing its fixed real estate footprint, Bisnow reports. Kapilashrami acknowledged that the company’s need for additional collaboration space could change fixed real estate in some capacity however.
“The idea of offices being rows and rows of desks with a photocopier at the end, I struggle to see how we go back to that,” she said. “When we did our survey, a very low single digit number of people said they want to work from home 100% of the time. They want greater flexibility, but they do want to come together to collaborate, innovate and meet clients. Our workspaces will continue to have a role. We need to do some real thinking about how much space do we need and also what it looks like.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org