The days of all employees working from one central office is a thing of the past for many businesses that have adopted the hub and spoke approach to workspaces. Read our guide to this modern model for operating a company and how it can benefit your business.
One major trend highlighted by the pandemic is that the traditional model of all team members being based in one central office is no longer essential. Millions of people temporarily working from home have highlighted that many companies can still operate effectively and productively with a large part of the workforce able to do their job away from the main office.
However, the pandemic also showed that face-to-face collaboration and meeting colleagues in person still has vital benefits. Staff can feel isolated at home, while creativity and innovation often thrives when people come together. But unlike the traditional approach, that doesn’t mean employees should have to spend hours travelling to do it.
Personal wellbeing and the impact of long commutes on the environment are among the reasons many workers are looking for workspace close to where they live so that they can combine home working with a nearby professional office. Research by the Office of National Statistics during the height of the pandemic in 2021 found that of those working adults who were homeworking at the time, 85% wanted to use a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working in future.
With this in mind, an increasing number of businesses are exploring the hub and spoke office model. This involves businesses operating a main office (the hub) alongside one or more smaller satellite offices or workspaces (the spokes) where employees can access a professional working environment near to where they live.
So why might a business want to adopt the hub and spoke model?
The benefits of hub and spoke
Businesses that adopt the hub and spoke office model can enjoy cost efficiencies compared to those with one large premises.
Using spoke offices rather than a single company headquarters opens up the opportunity to reduce the space you use and pay for.
Spokes are more flexible as you only pay for the space you use and you often don’t get locked into long lease agreements. They also give you the ability to scale the amount of space up or down depending on your needs and use hot desking and communal areas when you need them for extra flexibility.
Finally, giving staff access to offices close to where they live reduces commuting costs which is beneficial to the business as well as the environment.
Home working has many benefits, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Employees can face distractions from family members, difficulties communicating with colleagues, and feelings of isolation. They might also lack a comfortable space to work from or access to fast broadband.
Being based in a local, professional and well-equipped working environment a few days a week can provide your team with the space to be more productive and improve their mental health.
Wider Pool of Talent
Having multiple workspaces in different locations can open your business up to a broader range of talent.
A brilliant potential employee, for example, could be put off if your company is based in London which involves a long and costly commute, but they might be attracted to join if they can work closer to home.
Areas like Brighton, where the Plus X Brighton innovation hub is based, are home to a rich pool of talent and rank as one of the UK’s best locations to study and start a business. However, the people based in such locations might not be willing to commute long distances so local offices could attract the talent you need.
The wisest business leaders are those who ensure they don’t miss out on the best people just because employees have traditionally been based in the UK’s biggest cities.
Improve Creativity and Collaboration
Spoke offices can be seen as the business version of what US sociologist Ray Oldenburg described in his book The Great Good Place as the ‘third place’. These are public places that aren’t a person’s home or place of work where they “can gather…and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation”.
Many innovation experts agree that bringing employees together in one physical space can improve creativity. While there are lots of beneficial online collaboration tools, there’s something very powerful about being in the same room as a colleague. An inspiring change of scenery that isn’t an employee’s home or the company’s main office can provoke the great ideas, problem-solving and learning from each other that companies need to stay ahead. Spoke offices are that ‘third place’.
What a Good Spoke Office Needs
When selecting a satellite office or workspace for your business, there are several key features you should look out for.
Good technology is a must. The space should have strong and secure Wi-Fi as well as access to video conferencing and other tech tools.
The space shouldn’t be a rigid, uninspiring office; look for premises with areas for collaboration and hot desks to maximise flexibility.
It is advisable to select a coworking space or innovation hub that you can grow into. You might start with using hot desks before moving to permanent desks in a communal area and then your own dedicated office.
Working isn’t just doing a job, learning is also important. The best spaces deliver on site education and training that can inspire your workforce. Innovation programmes provide the knowledge, guidance, connections and structure to unlock the potential of a great idea. There is a range of guidance on offer including experts in product design and investment.
Employees’ wellbeing and mental health is key too. Natural light, good ventilation, outdoor spaces, fresh greenery and access to healthy food and drink have all been shown to benefit staff satisfaction and productivity.
Team members working in a spoke office should never feel that they are missing out by working away from the hub office. Look for an inspirational, collaborative, and modern workspace that your employees and business will be proud to call a home away from home.
Central Research Laboratory members choose from hot desking, resident desks, or office space for 3-20 employees. Find out more about workspace in Hayes, West London.