The amount of time we spend at work is on the rise; Britons are currently working more hours than anyone else in Europe, according to recent Eurostat statistics. Simultaneously, we’re seeing a new era of working styles as businesses move away from the familiarity of fixed desks.

Jamie Hopkins

While large corporates have pounced on flexible working and the importance of office design to boost productivity and attract talent, small and growing businesses do not always have access to the same kinds of environments.

At Workspace, we’re seeing that well-designed breakout spaces could be the key to inspire and create opportunities for companies of all sizes.

Despite an increased focus on office design, a 2017 survey by Office Genie showed that 45% of people still think their offices fail to promote collaborative work. It is time for office providers to tackle this head on to ensure their customers are getting the most of their space and to improve the prospect of lease renewal.

Breakout spaces are the perfect solution to create a ‘heart’ for a shared office, where tenants can gather, work and meet. We’ve seen first hand how brilliant ideas can be born from natural conversations sparked in these collaborative spaces, whether through partnerships between customers in our buildings or a simple question from a peer that can help take a business idea to the next level.

Often, we take the lead in creating events programmes designed to unite our customers in one place, to network or hear advice from inspirational leaders. This further cultivates the breakout space as a hub for curiosity and insight. It is particularly important for our co-working customers who may be working solo and need a helping hand to build their networks.

Working

Research by Haworth shows that the perfect office space for productivity should be designed to facilitate both segmented high-focus and open collaborative work. Customers tend to turn to flexible office providers for this very reason. Arguably, it is the notion of a central breakout space that creates this open-environment access. It can be as simple as creating a place towards which employees gravitate – through appealing design, café facilities or comfort.

Giants from Google to LEGO have been famously pushing the boundaries of design innovation, in a bid to motivate employees and show the psychological benefits of impressive office design. A flexible office provider that prioritises design can help to channel this further than just multinationals, to reach a range of smaller businesses and start-ups that are on shorter rental plans.

For customers who want to impress clients, a well-designed central space creates an impact from the get-go. Employers should also consider what a breakout space can do for talent retention, with collaborative spaces fostering a feeling of inclusion that supports employee wellbeing, as well as how original design can entice new recruits.

At Workspace, we have found that the combination of community feel and unique design features has driven longer-than-average tenure and contract renewals from our customers. Moreover, it has become a key factor to a successful business model.

Our consensus is that creating or benefiting from a shared breakout space emblematic of ideas-sharing and networking should be a consideration for all companies looking to boost collaboration, wellbeing and inclusion. It should also be fundamental for flexible office providers looking to strengthen connections across the UK business community over the long term, between companies of all shapes and sizes.

Jamie Hopkins is chief executive of Workspace Group