What’s Next For The Flexible Workspace Industry?

Thomas Schulz, from AllOfficeCenters, argues that in the future flexible workspace will increasingly become a standard component of landlord and investor strategies as they develop new projects.
  • Robert Kropp connected with Thomas Schulz from AllOfficeCenters following Schulz’s presentation in Coworking Europe. 
  • Kropp and Schulz discussed the flexible office market, current challenges, and what the future holds for the industry. 
  • Flexible workspace operators will need to work on their technology infrastructure and they are expected to work more closely with landlords and investors in the future. 

As part of the 2019 Coworking Europe conference, I had the pleasure to chat with many different people, including the team of AllOfficeCenters and Thomas Schulz, a managing partner with AllOfficeCenters, who also led a talk on some of the less discussed benefits of flexible office solutions. 

After the conference wrapped up, I reconnected with Schulz and team to further discuss the flexible office market, current challenges, and ultimately the future of the market. You can read Allwork.Space’s coverage of Coworking Europe 2019 here and here

What is the definition of Flex Office?

For AllOfficeCenters, “the term ‘Flex Office’ encompasses coworking, business centers, serviced offices, and space-as-a-service. Basically, it is turn-key office space that offers the flexibility for companies to rent and adapt their workspace quickly and affordably according to their business requirements.”

The variety of options in the market also means that one size does not fit all. Each team (large or small), along with individual members interested in flexible office options will often have varying requirements (privacy, security, etc), desired amenities, workspace needs, and the possibility to scale up or down as need be. 

The Top Challenge for Corporate Adoption of Flexible Space

Asked about the largest hurdle the industry must overcome in order for more large organizations to adopt flexible office solutions, Schulz stated the following. 

“Privacy is definitely a factor when it comes to more companies turning to flex space. Not only with regards to the IT requirements, but also in terms of separate entrances and individual community spaces. Many operators have already recognised this and are providing individualised solutions for large tenants.”

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I personally agree with Schulz, as in my experience, privacy and security is still a serious gap in some workspaces in the market. The IT infrastructure alone that has been put into place still needs to be upgraded and aligned with best practices. From sharing passwords to leaving guests alone in a workspace after hours, there are many bad habits I have seen that will need to be improved and standardized before the wider market really makes leaps forward.

An Eye to the Future

I asked Shcultz the following question: What do you think the next 1 to 5 years look like in terms of flexible office offerings and trends? Do you see certain regions or cities of the world being ahead of the curve or laggards? 

Schulz believes that “flex office centers will become significantly bigger – incorporating community areas, private team offices, and more meeting rooms than before.

“In the past, a classic business center used to offer 1500 sqm broken into several small offices that would accommodate 1-10 employees. But the need for companies to accommodate teams of hundreds is quickly rising. In response to this, operators are leasing larger spaces.”

There is also an expectation by the AllOfficeCenters team “that secondary markets will rise (and we) … will see developers and investors allocating space to flex office solutions at the initial planning phases and actively seeking suitable flex concepts for their buildings.”

Whether it is coworking, business centers, space as a service, or many of the other options within the flex space industry, it is clear that this industry will “increasingly become a standard component of landlord and investor strategies as they develop new projects.”

I thoroughly enjoyed connecting to Thomas and his team and look forward to seeing what 2020 and beyond has in store for us all. 

What do you think? Where is the flex office industry going? You can read more expert opinions here or tell me your thoughts here.

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