Navigating the changing landscape of the flexible office space sector

2 min read
Published: 13 Jun 2023 10:36

Over the past few years, the commercial real estate sector has faced a period of volatility and uncertainty with Brexit, the pandemic and economic headwinds creating a challenging environment for investors and occupiers. Despite these pressures, the flexible office space sector has emerged as a beacon of hope.

Even before the pandemic, investors were recognising the opportunities the sector offers and, thanks to its ability to deliver stable and long-term income, were starting to regard it as an asset class in its own right. However, the sector’s success in overcoming future challenges will depend on its ability to continue innovating to meet the evolving needs both of tenants and investors.

Strong sector demand 

In the wake of the pandemic, the office space sector has undergone a major transformation, with flexible workspaces leading the charge. Operators are seeking to acquire new buildings and expand their portfolios. OSiT, for example, is looking to boost its portfolio and presence in London, both by buying buildings freehold, preferably with an investor partner, and through entering into management contracts with landlords. This sector-wide shift has boosted the positive long-term outlook, with recent research showing an 82% surge in demand for flexible office spaces compared with pre-pandemic levels.

This shift towards flexible office spaces is a clear reflection of the changing demands of modern businesses. Recent research indicates that nearly 70% of firms are considering adopting more flexible office spaces to better meet the evolving demands of their workforce. Influenced also by the challenging economic environment, businesses are naturally shunning the traditional, long-term lease model.

This landscape has prompted many traditional landlords to shift their focus, with more than 61% of landlords planning to incorporate flexible workspaces into their portfolios over the next three years.

Attractive asset class

As a result of the sector’s success and resilience, flexible offices are becoming established as an asset class in their own right. In fact, even pre-Covid projections indicated a rise in the sector’s value in the UK to £65bn by 2026, with more optimistic estimates projecting a valuation of £120bn. Given this backdrop, it’s clear the sector is poised for significant expansion and presents an exciting opportunity for investors.

Indeed, flexible office spaces are no longer seen as niche investments, instead emerging as a safe-haven as institutional investors seek to diversify their portfolios and access long-term income streams in a challenging economic environment. The sector’s resilience during periods of uncertainty has only served to cement its appeal as a stable and profitable investment opportunity.

A new generation of offices

Underscoring this appeal for investors and tenants alike is the emergence of a new generation of flexible workspaces. One of the most exciting developments in the sector is the emergence of the “work village” – workplaces that offer a dynamic and multifaceted combination of amenities, services and working spaces beyond just traditional desks.