Photo of a ferris wheel against a blue sky, symbolising a hub and spoke model.
Image: © MaciejBledowski/

Covid may have brought us closer to a ‘hub and spoke’ working model

28 Oct 2020

A new report from Robert Walters suggests smaller city centre offices and rural co-working spaces could be on the cards for more companies after Covid-19.

The changes brought about by Covid-19 have given the working world plenty of food for thought. Companies have rolled out long-term remote working policies, hiring teams have pivoted online and employees have had to adjust to working from home.

Looking ahead, recruitment firm Robert Walters has published a new report on the future of work. It surveyed more than 5,000 professionals around the world in an initial survey and more than 2,000 business leaders in a follow-up.

In the first survey, 85pc said they expect more flexibility around working from home in the future. But 60pc of leaders in the follow-up said they had concerns about employee productivity if they were to allow more people to work remotely.

The skills in highest demand

In terms of future skills, the Robert Walters report said that while tech and AI may be responsible for administrative and transactional tasks, human skills will be crucial for businesses.

Soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, business intelligence, management, leadership, collaboration and crisis management will be important. Digital skills will also become increasingly essential as digital transformation continues at pace.

Three in four CEOs surveyed are worried about not having the talent they need for the future. And yet, just 18pc of CEOs have made significant progress in implementing upskilling programmes. One in 10 have made no progress in this area whatsoever, despite more than three-quarters (77pc) of employees saying they are willing to upskill.

The report advises employers to communicate their future-skills strategies to staff to encourage professional development.

‘Hub and spoke’ model

One-third of businesses that took part in Robert Walters’ survey said they have plans to downsize, while many will move to a “hub and spoke office model”. This model involves a downsized city centre office – the ‘hub’ – with smaller satellite offices or collaborative spaces – the ‘spokes’ – in rural areas.

The hub would act as the company’s headquarters, in which client and larger team meetings are held. Spokes can be versatile and designed to facilitate co-working and collaboration.

Director at Robert Walters Ireland, Suzanne Feeney, said that the pandemic has pushed businesses to “rethink their space and logistical needs”. The hub and spoke model has changed from what it was a year ago, and many companies are now focused on “pairing employee preferences for remote work with flexible physical workplaces that allow them to connect with their colleagues”.

“With more and more companies becoming comfortable with their employees working from home, it will become the norm for a headquarters to only have around 30pc of employees working from there on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

“However, our research highlights how important it is to maintain workplace culture in order to bring the best out of a workforce. Spokes or regional offices will work in that they aim to address all of the employees concerns around flexibility, commute time, cost of travel and work-life balance, while still allowing companies to train, motivate and monitor employees’ productivity on site.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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