84-86% of employees want to work for companies that stand up for the components of ESG (Environmental, social, and corporate governance), and implementing good ESG policies can therefore be a great way for businesses to attract top talent and keep employees happy. Additionally, having satisfied employees improves productivity levels by 13%, demonstrating the importance of embracing ESG across all facets of a business. It’s no surprise then, that Cardiff businesses are incorporating ESG policies into their operations so enthusiastically, maintaining an ESG rating 0.2ppts higher than the national average.
The ‘E’ and ‘G’ components of ESG are relatively clearer than that of their Social counterpart. Environmental impact can be tracked through various scales such as carbon emission figures or energy efficiency ratings, and governance functions as an identifiable set of rules and best practice for business leaders to follow. The benefits that flow from the social aspect of ESG, however, can often be overlooked. This component is commonly considered by industry-wide professionals as the hardest to analyse and implement; yet the elusiveness of social impact cannot be evoked as an excuse for abandoning this key aspect of ESG. 
When looking to improve social practices, businesses should consider the day-to-day of how they’re working. At Office Space in Town (OSiT), we see that flexible and serviced workspaces offer a smart solution to the problem of social policy implementation, helping to increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and wellbeing. In recent years, the Welsh government has put its weight behind flexible working, stating that it wanted to see 30% of the Welsh workforce working remotely. The tide towards hybrid working is turning in its favour, but what does this rise in demand have to do with the social factors of ESG, and what does this mean for employers?
Paramount to businesses seeking to improve their social impact should be the emotional commitment employees have towards their work, and how this dedication can be improved. Whilst hard to measure and analyse, flexible working has many ways of encouraging this form of enthusiasm. On the one hand, remote working on a full-time basis can be very isolating, with 81% of younger workers believing they would feel lonelier without time in the office. Equally, a fulltime office environment is overwhelming for some, and 84.4% of people say they are more distracted when in the office. Purpose-built flexible working spaces, like OSiT Cardiff’s Temple Court location, provide a happy customisable medium, that are better suited to individual employees and their working needs. Bespoke meeting rooms, comfortable break out spaces, and shared co-working spaces for those who want some respite from the bustling team environment, give businesses and their employees the ability to customise the environment they work in. It’s about catering to individual needs, just as much as those of the team.
Adopting a flexible approach does not have to come at the cost of the social benefits more closely associated with office work – and building a close team relationship can help to boost overall employee satisfaction and dedication. At OSiT, for example, it is a priority for us to encourage social collaboration, communication and camaraderie, and we regularly host client social events. Just last month, we helped our businesses, and their teams make the most of the summer sun, and hosted a BBQ, were those invited were encouraged to network and come together over the summer cuisine classics of burgers and hotdogs. We all work best when we can connect with those we work with, and, at OSiT, we make facilitating this connection our goal.
Year after year, the UK is waking up to the ongoing importance of workplace wellbeing, with a growing number of employers (84%) recognising the importance of enhancing their employees’ overall health. Moreover, a striking 86% of workers reveal that they would consider leaving a job if their wellbeing and welfare needs are not adequately addressed. For businesses, then, finding ways of supporting employees is of the upmost importance. Flexible office spaces encourage physical health initiatives. The site OSiT provides in Cardiff contains a bike rack and showers, for those who wish to schedule in a quick workout before the business day begins. Amenities such as standing desks, games rooms and gyms can also make the working day just that little more physically involved.
Moreover, the link between mental wellbeing and flexible home working policies has been the subject of much academic discussion. A 2022 study on the effects of working from home highlighted that hybrid working had moderate beneficial effects on psychological distress, burnout, and emotional exhaustion. Whilst full-time office work is certainly full on, adding commuting time to an employee’s day and increasing the risk of burnout, the draw of team connection and socialisation is one that homeworking cannot imitate. At the same time, more than a quarter (28%) of workers in Wales said they found it difficult to meet commitments in their personal life because of the time they spend at work, and the opportunity to cut out commute times to spend valued time with loved ones or pursuing personal passions is also invaluable. Hitting the happy medium between these two ways of working can be hard; yet, a flexible workspace, like the one offered by OSiT, gives both the business and its employees the opportunity to find the right work-life balance for them.
Ultimately, whilst the term ‘sustainability’ is more closely associated with the environmental element of ESG, the social component is just as important for the future of sustainable working. Increasing employee engagement, workspace customisation and helping employees to find a sustainable work-life balance are just a few of the benefits brought about by flexible workspaces. As a result of the social benefits associated with flexible working, staff turnover can be reduced by up 87%. For Cardiff based businesses, considering flexible office space providers such as OSiT can be a great way to ensure their practices are socially sustainable when moving forward in the ESG age.