There’s this meme that took over the world wide web saying that if you divide 2020 by 5 you’ll get 404, so basically the whole year is an error message. And to a certain extent, that is true. There’s no point in summarizing why, we all know that well. Life changed in a blink of an eye. Businesses face outstanding challenges, while whole industries have to adapt on the go and shift focus.

And the way we work changes as well. And will continue to do so, no doubt about that. 

There’s no surprise that in 2020 the coworkings are at the forefront of this rather quick shift in workspace trends. And although the year was challenging in so many ways, we keep ourselves on a positive note, as evolution and growth are pushed forward in unfavorable circumstances. And those give chance for creative destruction to take place.

Whether we like it or not, change is here and we have to face it the best way we can. And so we do.

How work changed in 2020? 

Even the wise folks from Oxford didn’t manage to choose ‘THE word’ of 2020, but in the context of work, that word should definitely be “online”. Almost everything that could, had to be moved online rapidly without adequate prior preparation. Businesses had to be quick and smart about the transition and find the best working solution for their teams. Some companies went into fully remote mode and kept that through the whole year, taking the risk of depriving their teams of the social aspect of going to the office and interacting with their fellow coworkers the old-fashioned way.

Others decided to search for the middle grounds and integrate the rotation-based principle of work so that their teams can keep their bonds and for the people for which the home-office is a no-no. Because, you know - one thing is living alone or having a spare room which you can turn into a mini personal office, from which you can work productively. Another thing is working between four walls with your roommates who are forced to do the same, or with your kids around that play ‘Peppa Pig’ on the TV on max volume.

Working from home could be a dream for some and a living nightmare for others. Along with this, let’s not forget that remote working and working from home are two different things that don’t necessarily overlap. Many people either don’t have enough space at home or the resources to set-up a comfortable and productive workspace - something for which they hadn’t had to worry about while working in the office.

It’s a long, complex topic to discuss and it varies case by case, but the overall feeling is that neither people or business are prepared for going fully remote.

Some say that expenses (like commutes)  on the side of the teams are cut when they’re working from home, but that’s not entirely true. Because at the same time people need to invest in bettering their home-office set-up, pay higher bills (as you basically spend 24/7 there) and have higher consumption of goods. Not to mention expenses on babysitters, dedicating time for homeschooling and etc., which don’t go hand in hand with productivity and focus. To handle all those different home-office scenarios, companies have to develop extensive team & project management strategies, invest in technology and utilities for their teams. And if that’s poorly organized, it will hurt productivity, team culture, and mental health in times when people need to be on top of their games. Many business leaders already expressed their observation that home-officing led to efficiency and performance drops, team de-motivation, and increased anxiety levels.

That pushed many companies to realize they need to find a new golden ratio of work that could meet both ends of the spectrum with more flexible workspace solutions. After all, it seems we’re headed towards a future of work that will demand greater flexibility and will change the current standards and services workspace owners need to provide.

And that’s where coworking spaces can lead the way in the future of work. 

The future is flexible.

Even at a later point in time, when the outbreak is finally put under control with mass production of vaccines, many of the changes that happened during this year will be here to stay. 

Presumably, one of those will be, well… work. A lot of businesses had to invest plenty of resources in developing remote-work processes and acquire new tools and means to manage teams & workflow, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to blast it all away. 

Truth is, flexibility in work is here to stay and from this point on it will be only developed better. It is not a coincidence that the hybrid office concept is now being introduced and more industries are looking forward or already embracing that approach. 

But what stands behind that fancy-schmancy term? It is quite simple really. The hybrid office concept is the one aiming for the ‘golden ratio’ between the classical office set and the remote-work trend. With the hybrid model of work, businesses can reduce expenses, while having an office that operates on a rotation-based principle. Let’s say you have a team of 100 people. With the ‘hybrid office’ approach you can now switch to a smaller office space and develop a policy for maximum remote-work days per week, combining them with the relevant number of days in the offfice.

With a pretty simple rotation-based organization of teams, you can altogether be smart about your office space and have a place to call your company’s home, thus giving your teams a sense of belonging, and a productive and social environment in which they can thrive, connect and grow. In other words, a place they can be happy at.

Because, although remote work is pretty attractive, people need a sense of belonging, and a community of like-minded peers is a good way to get there. With that said, physical space is needed to make that happen. But do you need that vast, soulless, and now half-empty office that feels rather spooky? You know the answer. 

The ‘hybrid office’ idea is complemented with a thing that’s been around for quite some time now, but in 2020 it has been reintroduced as a concept - the satellite office. Many companies (especially those that have HQ’s in bigger cities), came to realize that having several other locations around town, complementing their HQ, is a good thing to do. The ‘satellite offices’ are a great perk for people that otherwise have a super time-consuming commute, giving them the option to go to a closer working space. That, for example, could be resolved with having a desk or a small office in a coworking in an area that is suitable for a dozen of a company’s employees, thus providing them with a better alternative to the home-office option. That can benefit teams greatly, as it will give them the opportunity to mingle, network, and explore broader communities of professionals, thus expanding their own networks while being part of a larger ecosystem. 

In both of those scenarios, coworking spaces are already up ahead and could provide well-working solutions that stand the stress test of the changing market. Better yet - the coworking market already offers those for quite some time now, way before the COVID-19 hit and forced industries to reconsider their stand on workspaces and working habits. Not only coworkings already have the experience with that, but due to the increased demand, the market is leveling up and upgrading its best practices. 

And we’re already one step ahead. 

How do we answer the demand?

Puzl is providing extra flexibility to companies or individuals looking for an alternative to more traditional office space or to the home-office set up way before 2020. Not only this, but Puzl’s spaces are fully serviced by us, as we take care of all practicalities around your workplace so you don’t have to deal with time-wasting nonsense and only take care of what’s important. But what about coffee? Printers? Postal handling? Yeah, well, we take care of all that as well. And for the companies that need one extra step of security, we can set up a separate network (Virtual Gateway and VLAN with public IP address options). And if you’d like to go even further and customize your office in a way that’s more fitting to your needs, our internal architectural studio is there for you, so you can ‘wooooow’ your partners, clients, and friends when they visit. Basically, you only need to come around, do your magic, enjoy your time and make the most of your productivity. All the rest is handled by us.

But with this year’s ‘new normal’, we just took it all to the next level, so that people still go to a safe, productive, and community-oriented workspace with that extra flexibility we’re talking about. 

But what does that mean? For example, this year Puzl introduced the rotation-based practice for offices and desks, so that companies that have a team of XX people, with only X that need to be physically present, could rotate on demand and have access to a proper working space (especially important for all those for which the home-office is a no-no). 

Together with this, we welcomed quite a few people working remotely for companies that had to shut down their HQ’s. For them, coming to a workspace that can provide a safe environment (at least our windows open, ha!), boost productivity, and meet you with like-minded folks, was a better alternative compared to the isolation of the home office. Along with that, our Puzl CoCafé hosted many team gatherings, providing enough safe space to work from and a h-u-u-ge rooftop terrace for open-air get-togethers. 

Understanding the complicated situation all businesses are facing, we met both the needs for downscaling or upscaling (happily, we’ve had few stories like that this year) and always try to find the best solution for companies or individuals that want to stay and grow in Puzl. We managed to accommodate teams going from offices to Team Desks or Single Desks, keeping them part of the Puzl family. We worked hard with others and built our first tailor-made office for a team of 250+ people (cheers, Ipsos Bulgaria!). The office provides connectivity that goes hand in hand with a bright and fresh environment, a lot of natural light, and plenty of space.

The game is afoot and beginning of next year, we’ll open an entire space with fully-serviced Dedicated Offices that will welcome tech companies with teams of 50+ people and give a floor for unicorns to grow. The offices will be tailored and designed to the needs of the future inhabitants, applying Puzl’s flexibility options even to those big beauties. And yes, we take reservations. 

Best part? Our internal architectural studio (better known as The Ren Team) that has engineers, architects, and designers working together from ‘ground zero’, is taking care of each reconstruction project from the very first cable to the very last piece of furniture. And designing workspaces that have character, inspire productivity, and provide optimum functionality is their forte. Offices are expected to become more important as brand beacons and we without doubt can help you send a pretty strong light. We mean, just look at this: 

So yeah. The way we work changed and will continue to do so. What businesses will need and demand in their office is also changing and new, more optimized and customized solutions, together with better and smarter services from workspace providers, will be in higher demand.

And we’re ready for it. Are you?