- Research by The Instant Group and HLW found that those using flexible workspace are enjoying higher levels of productivity, better business opportunities, and improved work environments
- Users flagged that service improvements, innovations in workplace design and the quality of the community experience will help sustain long-term satisfaction with flexible space
- Wireless connectivity and wireless security are the most important technology-related features of these spaces.
Last week, the Instant Group published its 2018 research report “The Marketplace for Flexible Work”. The findings were based on responses from over 500 corporate users of flexible workspace, landlords, and operators to provide a realistic view of how the industry is perceived.
The initial results showed that 50% of those surveyed “envisage spending less time working from traditional office space in the future, while the number of corporates looking for more flexible options is growing.” The official release stated that “respondents cited greater work flexibility, expanding professional networks, business opportunities, greater levels of energy at work, innovation, and a generally improved working environment through the adoption of flexible workspace.”
The demand for flexible workspace has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, and the Instant Group believes demand will only continue to increase in the following years, as different players realize the value and benefits of these spaces. The key benefits vary by type of client, with flexibility being a common benefit for all.
The report focuses on 4 key players and provides information as to how each player has been positively impacted by flexible workspaces, citing the following:
ENTERPRISE REAL ESTATE LEADERS
Flexibility for employees
More flexible real estate costs
Reduced real estate costs
Greater work productivity
Improved work setting choice
More ways to offer flexibility to customers
Ability to attract enterprise customers
Better service offerings
Increased brand value
Increased revenue per seat
Flexibility around how I work
Expanded professional networks
Higher feeling of energy at work
Increased property values
Ability to attract new kinds of tenants
More ways to offer flexibility to prospective tenants
Better offerings for prospective tenants
Premium on revenue per square foot
The benefits of flexible workspaces are clear. However, there is still space for improvement. The research found that “end users flagged that service improvements, innovations in workplace design, and the quality of the social/community experience will help sustain long-term satisfaction with flexible space.”
Although operators are already working on fine-tuning their offerings, improving on their workplace design, focusing more on amenities, and curating the space and events to create a better atmosphere and foster member interaction, the research found that 85% of respondents “see room for improvement with a better approach to workspace design.”
Another key aspect of the workplace operators should focus on is technology. Bronte Turner, Principal and Managing Director at HLW London, believes that “technology is the backbone to any productive workplace. Technology and IT infrastructure used to be considered ‘secondary’ or ‘support’ functions, but in today’s working world, it has to be one of the first areas considered when designing and implementing a workplace for the future.”
This, however doesn’t mean you should implement biometrics from the get-go. There are other, more basic technologies that users value the most. The research found that “all respondents agree that wireless connectivity and wireless security are the most important technology-related features of these spaces.
“Printing compatibility and printing security were also very important. In terms of other technology-related features, respondents rank the availability of audio conferencing technology ahead of video conferencing technology.”
So before operators start thinking about biometrics, smart contracts, and other more innovative technologies, they have to make sure they are getting the basics right.
Regarding landlords and CRE developers, they see flexible workspaces as a great opportunity to increase their properties’ value and to attract new types of tenants. John Vaughan, Director of The Instant Group, says that “there is still much work to be done by the landlord market to really assess who these potential clients are and their specific demands, but the desire is there to adapt their offer to the market.”
Part of this desire to embrace flexible workspaces comes from the fact that the vast majority of people who are currently working from coworking spaces or other flexible offices will continue to do so in the future; therefore the demand will continue to exist.
Nonetheless, many remain skeptical as to the longevity of the success of the industry. The report states that many established commercial real estate commentators feel that the adoption of flexible workspaces is symptomatic to the times, and it is not a long-term, sustainable shift in strategy.
Stay tuned for more findings from the research, including what operators can do to attract more corporate clients
Read the full report here