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In business, major metropolitan areas have always been associated with success. The accounting firm with an office in lower Manhattan must be more prosperous than the firm with a headquarters in Westchester (a suburb outside of New York City). However, that office space in Westchester might just be what your company needs in the new remote work world.
COVID-19 has left both high-rises and strip mall offices empty. As the pandemic shifts the way we do business, we need to look to some of these changes as insight into the corporate environment’s future. With so many workers skipping the morning commute in favor of their home office, companies are already calculating the savings of eliminating their expensive downtown real estate.
If corporations leave their city-center HQ’s as relics of the past, what will the future office environment look like? The first thing that will change is where we hire people. With most employees working remotely, your company won’t have to look for people located in the same city or surrounding area anymore. Companies will take a satellite approach to the way they perform tasks. Instead of having hundreds of employees in the same zip code, they’ll have small groups of ten to twenty people located worldwide.
With thousands of employees clocking in remotely, you might be wondering how you can ensure they all have a safe and suitable place to work. We have the answer for you: the corporate outpost.
You might have heard of the rise of coworking spaces, a shared office with equipment for remote workers from different companies to utilize. These spaces can be public or privately rented, with long and short-term versions available.
The coworking trend is not a new one. More than 2,000 shared working spaces opened up worldwide in 2018. The covid 19 pandemic only expedited the rise of the coworking industry. One study projected more than 20,000 coworking spaces worldwide by the end of 2020. That same study expects more than five million people to be remote working in a shared workplace by the end of 2024. The corporate outpost is your company’s chance to get in on this coworking movement.
A corporate outpost is when a business with a decent number of employees (5 or more) living near each other rents a local working space for all of them to gather and collaborate, a company-created coworking space. This shared workspace can be located in more residential areas of large cities and are even more effective when in suburban or even countryside towns. Real estate is more affordable there, and it’s where most office workers live anyway. Corporate outposts can either be already equipped or an empty space that the company equips itself.
A small business owner can make corporate outposts more affordable by splitting the cost with other companies in the area. Through resources like LinkedIn, you can check what businesses have employees in the area and reach out to them for a partnership. With the right partner or partners, you can split the costs in half.
The shared spaces of the future won’t look like your typical cubicle-filled office. Instead, corporate outposts will put communication and collaboration at the forefront. The purpose of putting these people together is for them to help each other. If companies wanted to isolate their remote employees during their workday, they could leave them in their homes. They need an environment in which they can navigate freely where their peers are visible and accessible. But how are interior designers making these new coworking spaces fit this vision?
The covid-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the necessities of office space. From now on, things like hand sanitizer stations, mask-wearing, temperature checks, and social distancing need to be addressed as priorities when selecting a space. On top of that, the migration of offices from city spaces to the outskirts will prompt a change in the types of spaces. Thousands of theatres, cafes, restaurants, and factories have been abandoned because of the pandemic. It makes sense for innovative companies to take advantage of this free space and rent it at a more affordable rate than traditional office space.
We can also expect our new corporate outposts to be expertise-specific. Companies with groups of graphic designers, podcasters, developers, or marketers in the same region will open up remote spaces that are task-dedicated. These spaces’ primary tasks will influence their design while also featuring previous coworking spaces’ common elements.
One element many remote coworking spaces have utilized is the outdoors. Green spaces where remote teams can meet to discuss projects and tasks are fantastic when the weather is nice. Instead of your employees staring out the window and longing for sun on their skin, they can enjoy some fresh air during their meeting. Many coworking spaces have already implemented technologies like outdoor power sockets and long-range wifi to make their gardens and backyards more accessible to people.
If you plan to furnish your corporate outpost yourself, then consider using GroWrk. They can ship furniture and office equipment to countries worldwide. Whether you want your remote employees to have a standing desk or ergonomic office chair, GroWrk has your preference in stock. Employers can also set a budget for their remote workers to select their furniture themselves, making it even more personalized.
Now that you know what a corporate outpost is and what it might look like, you’re probably wondering why. There are three distinct advantages to using a corporate outpost structure over home offices and a city headquarters. We have outlined them below.
In the US, traditional office space can cost anywhere between $8 and $22 for a square foot. The cheapest rooms are located outside of big cities, in small towns, or residential areas. Downtown metropolitan areas and business districts are the most expensive places to rent offices and are usually very far from employees’ homes. There is also no need to flex with a fancy highrise office in the center of the city. With so many of the world’s workers already switching to an at-home lifestyle, nobody cares where you work anymore.
These spaces are also easier to equip. Keeping and hiring remote employees in the same general area will allow you to set up one office space a reasonable distance between them. Once you have the number of employees working there, and what they’ll need, you can order and set up the office all at once. You can also make that equipment specific to the positions working in the corporate outpost.
Moving out of the downtown area won’t just save you business money on rent and maintenance but could also cut down your worker's commute depending on where you locate it. Rent downtown is expensive and often isn’t the place for regular workers. A flexible workspace for your employees outside the city center will allow them the benefits of physical communication without having to travel long distances to the company headquarters.
Since most working and middle-class employees live in the suburbs, we recommend setting up your corporate outpost in one of these areas. Maintaining proximity to a city will make things like travel and B2B interactions more convenient. Plus, a location off the busy streets and highways will have your remote team free from traffic and with more time to themselves.
It’s no secret that being next to someone and asking them a question is more effective than sending an email. Remote teams can have trouble explaining or demonstrating a virtual office topic when it’s easier to explain in a physical space. For example, suppose you have a presentation where your speech contains critical information, and the visuals are just highlights or summaries. Performing that presentation in person is almost always more engaging than doing it via skype.
The corporate outpost’s open setting will encourage more collaboration and helping each other among your remote staff. When managing a remote team, one of the most challenging obstacles is getting team members to collaborate. Everyone is at home and working on their schedule. They want to perform tasks on their own time without too much reliance on their fellow teleworkers.
However, collaboration is an integral part of making a project run smoothly and maximizing efficacy. People often make mistakes during remote tasks that can easily be spotted or prevented if team members communicate more effectively. If your peers are sitting right next to you, it’s easier to ask them for help or update them on your remote work.
For basic and daily tasks, remote workers can complete them at home. However, for longer form tasks with a short deadline, the corporate outpost will be the perfect place for employees to meet together and save time on communication. For sprints, corporate outposts maximize these high-level projects by fostering discussion between team members and making the project more transparent and accessible.
After reading this article, we hope you’ve concluded that the corporate outpost isn’t just a viable option but also a likely outcome in the future. Like coworking spaces before them, these office spaces will become more familiar with the corporate world, shifting to a satellite-style landscape. Investing in corporate outposts will make your remote employees happier and more effective. It will also save you a lot of money.
Whether you're an entrepreneur, a startup, or one of the big companies, it can be a significant improvement for your remote teams.
The place and the way we work has changed. No one expected COVID-19 to have the impact that it did or the way it would transform the way we live. That surprise makes the need to adapt to the post-pandemic world even more imperative. Building a corporate outpost for your remote workers can be the first step in your company evolving to the new normal.