Office rents are rising and skills are short – can technology keep Australian businesses ahead of the game?

Finding and keeping talent has always been a big issue for Australian business owners – but these days there’s an urgency about it that we’ve not seen before.

What’s to blame? Partly economic success, which is creating a serious skills shortage as demand for higher-skilled workers grows in industries including IT, engineering, financial and professional services.

Recruiters Hays, in their 2017 Global Skills Index, say recent jobs growth means there are fewer people looking for work, meaning wage pressure is inevitable.

The report also points out that readily available candidates are now less likely to have the skills Australian employers want.

Jobs growth equals prosperity, of course, and that’s great news. But it also means pressure on available office space, driving up rents.

In Sydney and Melbourne, for instance, the Colliers International office research report for the second half of 2017 found demand far outstripping supply in CBD (central business district) office space.

It calls it “the perfect storm” and warns: “Supply for the next 12 months is even more ominous.”

Net face rents per square metre, July 2017:

  • Sydney – $1,015
  • Melbourne – $693
  • Brisbane – $672
  • Perth – $700

So it’s hard to find staff, and it’s hard to find office space. And that means when you do find either, they’re expensive.

What are ambitious Australian companies to do?

In a time of global economic uncertainty, it’s crucial that potential growth in the country is not stifled by practicalities: someone to do the work, and somewhere to do it.

Some companies are simply stumped – but others are coming up with ways to address their needs that also benefit the working population.

For instance, analyst Bernard Salt observed in a recent article in The Australian that the workforce is becoming increasingly part-time.

He believes this reflects a number of factors that range from business requiring a more flexible, agile, workforce to more women in the workforce and a shift in household values towards partners sharing income.

Why the world loves ‘anywhere working’

It’s a pattern that’s reflected all over the world. A global survey of 24,000 office workers recently found 62% take advantage of flexible working practices.

And it’s good for business, too – the same survey found a huge 98% of the same people say ‘anywhere working’ boosts their productivity.

Flexible or desk booking practices mean organizations can often reduce their office workspace because all their staff are not in the office at the same time.

Hot desking and flexible meeting areas means expensive space is well-used – a desk that stands empty in Sydney for most of the day is a costly drain on resources when space is more than $1,000 per metre per month. Add it up…

But flexible doesn’t mean sloppy.

But as many companies have found to their cost, being flexible about working  – despite its many benefits – requires some well-defined procedures and well-supported processes.

Brian Margerison is the head of NFS Technology Group, an international workplace software company that has recently opened a new office in Sydney to cater further for its Australasian customers.

He says: “When flexible working is operating at its best, it provides a fantastic work-life balance for workers, a productivity boost for the organization and potentially a reduction in office rental costs.

“When it’s combined with the use of collaborative technology such as video conferencing and AV, reducing travel costs, companies can make significant savings while driving up efficiency.”

It’s a highly modern way to do business – but keeping all of this under control, though, particularly for multi-site organizations, requires a modern solution.

Meeting management software has responded to this shift in the workplace to provide the tools facilities managers and office owners need to maximise the benefits of agility.

A good meeting management software system monitors available space with the help of desk occupancy sensors, displays it online in real time and allows flexible workers to book the workspace they need easily from anywhere they have an internet connection.

“They can also book resources they need such as video conferencing or AV in the same transaction, so everything is ready for them when they come in to work or join a meeting,” says Brian.

The meeting management software is able to automatically take time zones into account, and informs all guests if arrangements change. It even releases space back into availability if no-one shows up.

“The software provides reports that show how an office is genuinely being used, and provide information to support good decisions as business needs develop,” said Brian.

“The result is a connected workplace that’s set up for maximum efficiency and the lowest possible costs, but which also keeps workers happy by allowing them to get on with their jobs easily – it’s great for retaining talent in our competitive jobs market.”

CLICK HERE to find out about the meeting management software that’s helping Australian businesses stay ahead of the game