16 Unmissable Moments from the Flexible Workspace Industry in 2016

8. And gained recognition in the process

In 2016, flexible workspace operators and suppliers celebrated its fair share of well-earned achievements. From Orega’s Golden Bridge Award to the BCA’s Annual Industry Awards, which included gongs for Landmark Plc, essensys, Serviced Office Company, Bizspace and Flexioffices, the industry continued to shine in the spotlight.

9. Coworking continued to diversify, and took another bold step into the lifestyle market

We’ve long suspected that work/life balance is an illusion, and in many ways the coworking sector is embracing the increasingly blurred line between work and home life. As co-living builds momentum, over the past 12 months we learned more about work/life integration and why home elements are now an integral part of workplace design. We discovered ‘wellness’ coworking spaces that bring yoga into the workplace (or more accurately, bring work into the yoga studio) and we learned why the best coworking spaces look “lived-in” and homely. Finally, Ziferblat showed us how a “pay-per-minute sitting room” is taking on the coworking sector, and why their novel approach to work/life integration is set for blistering expansion next year.

10. There were more big changes across the sector

Yoga and sitting rooms aside, the traditional flexible workspace industry also saw its fair share of changes. Among them, business center giant Regus announced a new holding company name and a head office relocation to Switzerland, while David Saul, founder of BE Offices, gave a candid interview on their latest expansion and what he believes the future holds for our industry.

11. Niche spaces flourished

One of the most exciting elements of a growing industry is its potential to reach a wider target market. In 2016 we saw many niche spaces flourish, including a coworking space in Beijing for musicians, a variety of culinary spaces, and a center in Chicago that aims to improve literacy. And while not exactly ‘niche’ given its vast potential audience, a hybrid work/childcare space in London explained how their approach works, where others – including the well-known NextKids – have failed.

12. Workspace went corporate

A significant milestone in the coworking journey is its widespread adoption by corporate firms. This past year we saw further development of corporate coworking, and we expect this trend to evolve further in 2017 given its enormous impact on the utilization and performance of real estate, and its potential to attract the next generation.

13. Design taught us many important discoveries

When it comes to design, every operator wants to know: how will it improve revenue? BLANKSPACES’ Jerome Chang shared a number of fascinating insights into designing for revenue, but it’s not all about money. From multisensory design to harmonious spaces that improve productivity through reduced distractions, workspace design is a powerful tool that can invoke feelings in the people who spend time in its presence and impact the quality of their performance as a result.

14. And tech changed the game (again)

Workspace is closely linked with technology — our spaces simply don’t work without it. In 2016, technology once again stole the show; we saw disruptive mobile apps and platforms designed to match people and spaces, the minefield of sensor data, new tools for secure workspace access, the advance of digital mail for wandering workers, and the sorely under-utilized opportunity of Wi-Fi onboarding. Ultimately, spaces with good technology are at least part of the way towards winning loyal clients – which Workspace Group Plc demonstrated perfectly with the arrival of tech giant, Mozilla.

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15. Above all, community took center stage

Technology, people, design, good ideas, outstanding service… all of these elements make a great workspace. But even these ingredients don’t always guarantee a great community. In 2016, we saw time and time again the value of a solid, thriving workspace community, and we have spent the past 12 months exploring ways to achieve this Holy Grail of flexible workspace. We spoke to community managers, coworking operators, business center owners, corporates, even coworking members. It turns out every approach differs from the next and there is no right-or-wrong way to build a community, but it really does matter. So why not resolve to start the New Year by working on yours?

16. As for the future, it’s a smorgasbord of exciting possibilities, game-changing ideas and brand new opportunities.

As we wait for 2017 to open its doors, there are all manners of thrilling possibilities just waiting to be discovered. Will workspace-on-wheels catch on? Will archaic office environments finally get killed off? How will virtual reality impact our industry? Could meeting rooms finally take center stage?

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that our industry has the power to embrace diversity and to bring people together in ever more positive and constructive ways. Ours may be a growing (some would say crowded) market, but there is always a new direction, a change of pace, a novel approach or a basic improvement (better coffee?) that can transform your environment. And of course, there are always opportunities to strengthen your community — the heart and soul of your workspace.

Flexible workspace has been decades in the making, and it’s here to stay. So here’s to you – the movers and shakers, the community makers and the trend breakers. Our industry’s future is bright, and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

Keep your stories coming in and connect with Allwork’s Editors on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. Happy New Year!

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