What’s a ‘hub-and-spoke’ office model – and why does it matter?

What’s a ‘hub-and-spoke’ office model – and why does it matter?

If there’s one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted, it’s that the traditional set-up of a corporate headquarters where employees congregate daily is not essential for productivity, and that more roles than ever can be conducted remotely.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 1.54 million people worked remotely in 2018 – a rise of 74% from a decade before. While in the US, a Gallop study reveals that remote working has doubled during the pandemic with one in four employees working entirely from home. As a result, many firms have found that it’s time to reinvent the working environment with a ‘hub-and-spoke’ office model.

What does ‘hub and spoke’ mean?

In the past, a company headquarters would be where your executive management, key departments and support staff were based, and it made sense. With everybody in the same building, decisions could be made quickly, departments would collaborate, and progress could be monitored. Such offices were often in prestigious central business districts, which meant commuting from the outer suburbs was all but essential for most employees. But with the advance of cloud technology and remote working policies there’s far less need for all employees to work under the same roof.

The offers companies another option – a main office (hub) and then further satellite offices or workspaces (spokes) for employees to have a professional place of work but within easy reach of home. The infographic shows the benefits for businesses are ten-fold, but with flexibility being the key advantage.

Workspace mobility

This hub-and-spoke model is a real driver behind the and offers an accessible hybrid between working from home and working in the office. With rising real estate costs and limited space in city centres, companies are fast reassessing the way they use their office space. Fixed lease offices have become an obstacle to this movement in recent years, but working through a global pandemic has proved to businesses that remote working functions just as well, if not better, whether you’re an international conglomerate or a sole-trading freelancer. And without being tied to a rigid lease, businesses are able to scale and expand into other areas according to their needs.

Sustainable work-life balance

This approach is not only beneficial to a company’s bottom line, but it has been proven that flexible working increases productivity, profitability and employees’ work-life balance. For companies, the hub-and-spoke model makes it easier to distribute a workforce. It reduces fixed real estate commitments yet enables employees to work in a modern, professional and well-equipped environment, while shoring up the myriad benefits that a reduced commute offers, be it more time with family, or spent on extracurricular projects. As for a company’s environmental responsibility, downsizing to a smaller hub will also shrink a company’s carbon footprint, reducing the energy used on appliances, air conditioning and heating – not to mention the emissions notched up on employee commutes – and setting it on a course to meet increasingly stringent emissions targets.

Expand the talent pool

While working from home has been a success for many, a recent report by Capita showed that 77% of businesses said the lack of social contact during working hours has compromised employee wellbeing. So there needs to be a middle ground between long commutes to packed offices and working from home. In recent years, flexibility has become the number one requirement of key talent when considering joining a company. Companies that are open to flexible working will benefit not only by attracting top-shelf candidates but also from increased productivity, profitability and loyalty from their current workforce.

For companies, the opportunity to spread out and attract a wider pool of talent, improve the work-life balance of their employees and increase productivity and profitability, the hub-and-spoke office model could be a win-win situation for everyone.

With thousands of smart flexible workspaces all around the world, IWG can offer the services your company needs to navigate the new normal