Emerging from what has proven to be a transformational few years – influential in changing the way we work and use office space for good – flexibility has fast become a key talking point across most industries. 

Katrina Larkin

Katrina Larkin

With offices fully reopening and ‘back in business’, and some employers demanding employees come in up to five days a week, we’re now facing conversations about the lack of flexibility, and the impact it can have on careers, perhaps most notably for women. It is sparking the ever-growing phenomenon of the ‘flexidus’ movement, opening conversations surrounding not just where you work, but also how you work.

The pandemic provided a brief period where office dwellers were able to work from home and dictate the way their working hours fell into and around their everyday routine, with a self-defined, shared focus on careers, parenting, schooling and even the potential for their own further education, to name just a few daily activities.

Now, with many employers keen to coerce staff back into the office full time, a sudden lack of flexibility is, for some, feeling like a much harder pill to swallow. Recent research by LinkedIn reveals the lack of flexibility is causing 52% of women to leave, or consider new working opportunities. Of those who made the move to leave, 21% of women felt their career progression had been hindered, while a staggering one in four decided to take a complete career break.

These statistics are evidence of the fact that employers have a duty to ensure their people, female or otherwise, are supported and working in an inclusive environment. They must actively encourage a healthy work-life balance – encompassing mental and physical wellbeing, career progression and employee retention.

The workspace plays a crucial role in this. The right working environment will provide settings that cater to every working style and help to cultivate a strong team dynamic and unique company culture. It will offer space to allow employees to take a moment, gather their thoughts or recuperate from a hard day’s graft – whether that may be through working out in a wellness studio, relaxing in a reading room or spending five minutes in a designated sleeping pod.

Defined hours, or working days, designed to regroup, align and assert direction can prove invaluable in encouraging effective forward planning and maximised productivity from a collective workforce.

A bit of distance really can make the heart grow fonder. With less face-to-face contact and team time enforced between colleagues – who may have spent the day tied to their desks – the need and desire for social engagements, settings and activities within workspaces has also been seen to increase. The future of our workspaces is calling for far more flexibility and choice.

Katrina Larkin is co-founder and chief creative officer at flexible office space provider Fora