By Rebecca Kelly, CEO, VenueScanner
The demand for flexible working has increased at an unprecedented level in recent years, with 70% of workers being more attracted to jobs that offer it as a benefit. This has pushed companies to rethink traditional structures and be open to alternative working arrangements. However, out-of-office spaces specifically designated for this purpose are often beyond the price range of young and developing companies.
As businesses struggle to meet the demand for flexible working, events spaces are fighting their own battle against inflated overheads and changes in consumer preferences. Consequently, they are having to reduce opening hours or even close down; pubs were closing at a rate of 27 a week last year, according to Camra, and there are countless venues in the UK that aren’t being utilised to their full potential.
Bringing together those struggling to afford space and those struggling to fill the space saves them both. Venue Hire Platforms are critical to helping both achieve this; enabling events spaces, including pubs, schools and churches, to share their availability for purposes such as flexible working and meetings or workshops that they may not have realised they were suited to before.
Moving away from tradition
Many have preconceived ideas of what constitutes the ideal, appropriate venue for group working. However, thanks to the rise of flexible working, these preconceptions are rightly being challenged. Companies are beginning to consider living by the phrase, ‘the best decisions are made in the pub, not the boardroom’ and becoming open minded to a venue that will inspire productivity instead of the four white walls of a boardroom. There is a huge array of venues that affordably cater for different eventualities, whether it’s a meeting for 20 board members, a brainstorm for a start-up, or a Christmas lunch, if only companies are willing to give them a chance. This can be particularly useful for businesses looking to scale-up through new hires that cannot yet afford the accompanying office space.
Technological innovation has allowed individual employees to collaborate with one another from remote locations. Therefore, central office spaces are no longer a necessity for businesses to succeed; staff can be dotted across the country and still feel connected. Finding or providing specially designed working spaces in each area is economically and logistically unfeasible; encouraging workers to explore and work from local gems is not. Setting up camp in a pub or a local coffee shop will not only provide workers with variety, but do wonders for struggling venues who will benefit financially and atmospherically from increased footfall.
Furthermore, bringing together employees once a month, or bi monthly, is imperative for maintaining company morale. Hiring venues to host these meetings, or workshops is important for those struggling venues that would otherwise be left forgotten.
The common narrative of flexible working is the economic benefit for small businesses. However, venues also reap these benefits. Pubs and restaurants are due to experience a +£300m cost increase and battle with the weaker pound. Similarly, schools are facing a major funding crisis, with secondary schools in line to lose funding equivalent to six teachers’ salaries. The Education Policy Institute claims that the average secondary school will lose almost £300,000 each, while primary schools could lose out on more than £70,000. During the summer holidays, why not utilise an empty school hall, perfect for a conference, presentation or team workshop? These not only save money for the small businesses, but also fund much loved community hot spots that are struggling to secure vital regular funding.
Word of mouth
Beyond giving these venues the regular income they so rightly deserve, companies hiring out local venues are also making a statement to their own employees, clients and partners. It takes guts to break with the tradition of meeting centres and hotels, but only by doing so, will everyone see the benefits of hiring community spaces. Be bold, start a movement, spread the word and you’ll inspire others to take advantage of venues right under their nose.
Ultimately, championing flexible working not only benefits growing businesses working with tight budgets, but also the venues that are being used to host them. So many venues are not being utilised to their full potential, leaving empty seats and putting community hotspots under threat of survival. Filling these with people again will breathe life back into Britain’s local spaces.