The term Hub and Spoke originally derives from the airport industry. Instead of sending half-empty flights from and to smaller ‘spoke’ destinations, flights would swap over at a central ‘hub’ destination between the two airports. The hub airport then becomes the connecting location: London Heathrow, for example.
Since the model was pioneered in the 1980s, it has come to have many other industry adaptations outside of aviation, including product logistics, social media distribution and online project management.
In the world of commercial property, ‘hub and spoke’ refers to a more flexible workspace and working style. As opposed to the more traditional headquarters model - in which a business operates from a single, larger city centre head office - ‘hub and spoke’ offices allow employees to work from either their city hub or a dedicated, strategic spoke location, including more regional workspaces.
When approached about the change in working styles brought on by COVID-19, Les Back, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, said: “The hollowing-out of city life has been coming for a long time. It may be that some businesses won't come back to the centre of the city and think it's too risky - or there may be other economic drivers where people will just take the opportunity to ask: "Why are we investing so much of our capital in these large office spaces?””
‘Hub and Spoke’ offices, unlike the model’s predecessor, are not necessarily located in city centres. The advantages of this speak for themselves, but here’s a look into how exactly the ‘hub and spoke’ workspace model can benefit your business.
Adopting this work model means you can downsize the city centre office in which you are based - since your centralised workforce will be reduced - and open up a range of strategically-placed smaller offices in more regional locations. Less square footage in the city results in lower overheads, rent and expenses, and reduced business rates - a triumph sure to please any financial department.
Now, more than ever, (and especially with the effects of the pandemic in full swing), flexibility is vital for businesses. If you find the right commercial property operator, ‘hub and spoke’ offices will allow you to work within a broader business centre network and provide your company with freedom, unlike traditional long-term leases. Shorter licence agreements, fewer T&Cs to sign on the dotted line, low risk and low hassle are just some of the flexible benefits that come with this model. At BizSpace, we also offer customers the freedom of movement within our centres, providing them with the ability to upscale or downsize at short notice.
Take one for your team! By producing a heatmap of where your employees live versus where they work currently, you can get an idea of the alternative areas that might work better for their operations. While this boosts their local economies, for which they will be grateful, your employees will also save money and precious time on their commute. In return, a better work/life balance for them could mean higher productivity and output for the business.
Why stay in one location when your business could go further? A larger geographical footprint equals a broader audience, and customer and client reach. Adopting the ‘hub and spoke’ model means that, while your dispersed teams are going about their daily business, they are meeting local people and other companies, opening a range of doors and benefits including a broader reach for in-person services, more ‘click & collect’ spots, new business partners and a more extensive distribution network.
“The world is your oyster”, as it were. The opportunity to hire new talent is one that comes with regional offices further afield. With a centralised office, businesses are confined to certain geographical compromises such as commute distance, time and cost. That means the majority of the country’s talent is lost on your business, and these individuals who might be the key to your future success could be hired by your competitors instead. Imagine if you could hire who and where ever you needed to.
While the effects of the pandemic continue to challenge businesses up and down the UK, many are considering alternative and more flexible workspace options. Demand for regional offices is ever-increasing, even in this climate, so if you are considering a property change for your own business, the ‘hub and spoke’ model might well be the direction to move towards in 2020 and beyond.