Tomorrow's workspace has flexibility at its core

UK News Group - 22nd November 2023
Simon Eastlake
3 min read
Published: 31 Jan 2024 4:55

I’ve said this many times, however, WeWork is just a company and not a wider movement. Its bankruptcy is not reflective of the flexible office sector.

Perceptions on flex-space and hybrid working

Today, there are endless discussions around the ‘future of work’, and return-to-work mandates appear to be the latest hot-potato that global organisations are dealing with. The trend towards heading back into the office is a welcome change for organisations looking to pull employees into line, especially those who may have become a little too comfortable with working from home. But with many employees prioritising employers that have flexible working policies, organisations are looking at how they can balance a good working environment while also retaining key talent.

Hybrid working policies are a large contributor to the rise in popularity of flexible and serviced workspaces, and I’m certainly not the only one who can say there are little signs that the professional world will ever return to pre-pandemic norms. So, while some organisations may eventually mandate five-days per week in the office, the way we work will forever be changed, and it will continue to adapt.

Most importantly, both employers and their employees want flexible and collaborative working environments to keep up with this change.

Positive developments in the industry

In April, two-thirds of London’s flexible office spaces were more than 80% occupied, demonstrating the strength of the market. In June, Colliers reported that two-thirds of corporate occupiers in EMEA anticipate that up to 20% of their commercial real estate portfolio will move from traditional leases to flex leases in the next five years.

Demand for flexible office space isn’t just coming from small businesses, in fact, many large corporate occupiers are seeking space. Notably, the number of enquiries from occupiers seeking over 100 desks has increased by 50% YoY compared to pre-pandemic levels.

With the rise in popularity of hybrid styles of working, tenants are looking for landlords to provide flexible options that allow them to quickly expand or contract their office space as business conditions dictate and office attendance rates shift. At Office Space in Town (OSiT), our ability to provide this flexibility for our tenants has been a key contributor to us reaching 91% occupancy and our highest-ever average desk rate.

Some organisations are looking to stay put due to the uncertainty of what’s to come, however, those that have taken the leap and are utilising serviced and flexible office spaces will reap the rewards of a more productive and satisfied workforce.

Flexible is forever

Flexible and serviced offices allow organisations to focus more on their business and their team, and worry less about whether office amenities are up to standard, or how much the heating bill is going to be each month. Organisations that are looking to put more structure around their hybrid policies need to ensure that employees can see how this is practically going to work, and whether they really are going to have a more flexible way of working – which is where the physical environment of an office space plays a significant role.

Flexible and serviced workspaces offer employees the freedom to utilise breakout spaces and use on-site gyms or reading rooms before and after work, however, they also provide the routine and consistency of a set office environment, with all the bells and whistles too.

Organisations today are looking for the right balance of certainty and flexibility, and it is the business model, along with an understanding of the market, that will determine whether serviced and flexible office providers prosper or decline in their offerings.