Flexible workspace can mean different things to different people. Here we answer a few frequently asked questions…
1. Can you define what a flexible workspace is and why its beneficial for a company?
Flexible workspace comprises a wide range of office space solutions from a single desk in a coworking environment to a fully managed workplace solution for large organisations seeking a tailor-made workspace with their own corporate identity. Serviced office provider BE Offices was the first in the industry to offer the full spectrum of flexible space solutions, with the acquisition of coworking specialist Headspace Group and the formation of its BE.Spoke division offering corporate occupiers an all-encompassing one-stop shop.
Flexible space is client focused space as opposed to the non-client-centric traditional model of conventional office space. Flexible space puts the client at the heart of everything, providing speed of access, simplified contracts, a turnkey solution without the need for capital or long term contracts, with fixed and potentially all-inclusive costs.
2. How does a serviced office fit into the flexible workspace category and how does it differ from coworking and a hybrid?
This is a hard question to answer as the flexible workspace market is not as black and white as it used to be. Under the flexible workspace umbrella there are accelerator spaces, incubator spaces, coworking, serviced offices and managed workspaces, not to mention hybrids of all. People have different definitions of the space they occupy and in a sense, some terms are becoming obsolete as the consumer doesn’t really care how their space is categorised. What the client wants is space delivered in the right way, in an acceptable timeframe, with terms which meet with their specifications. The lines between are becoming blurred. Many coworking providers categorise themselves as such but the majority of their space is actually serviced offices. In terms of flexible space, serviced offices certainly make up the largest proportion in terms of square footage and are still the leading force within the flexible space world.
3. Is it hard for a company to find a flexible workspace to move into? Is there enough available?
The flexible space market is way more transparent than that of the traditional office space world so flexible space is much easier to source online and through agents and brokers. Conventional space agents are even informing clients now about flexible space where they didn’t before. In terms of availability, in some areas there is a need for more supply and in others there is slight oversupply. In London we estimate only 5% of the total office stock is flexible space but demand is increasing. The future is flexible space and this is shown in the increase in take up over the past few years, with flexible space providers taking around 20% of all available stock in 2017 and 2018.
4. What are the main perks of a flexible workspace?
The main perks of our flexible workspace are predominantly the all-inclusive pricing, contracts from only 1 month and no deposits for moving in. Flexible workspace offers occupiers the capacity to expand or reduce their requirement as their business dictates without the burden of long term leases.
In general, speed of entry, no upfront capital, superior levels of service, data connectivity, turnkey solutions, more agility, and the benefits of joining a ready-made business centre community are among the key benefits. It’s a plug and play scenario in which the client gets on with running their business while the flexible space operator takes care of the facilities management, security, cleaning, IT, call handling and reception. The most progressive flexible space providers are able to offer additional benefits such as onsite gyms, breakout areas, community and networking events and more.
5. What contract lengths do you offer and what are the most typical lengths companies use?
We offer contracts starting at just one month on our serviced office space, or for bespoke managed space a minimum of 12 months, however we are a truly flexible provider where clients can start by getting a day office, virtual office or a meeting room for an hour.
6. How does pricing compare to a normal office let?
Historically the perception has been that flexible space was more expensive but this myth has to be challenged when looking at the up-front and total cost of occupancy versus raw space which needs to be fitted out and furnished, with the addition of IT installation. Our workspace is even more competitive than traditional space when you take into account manned receptions, call handling, security, cleaning, facilities management, IT and added benefits such as gyms with free personal training, access to a thriving professional community, client events, unlimited tea and coffee, speaker events and even an indoor golf simulator!
7. How is the market currently changing?
The lines are blurring under the flexible space umbrella but traditional landlords are now interested in providing space delivered as a service, partnering with operators, leasing to operators or doing it themselves which presents the challenge of whether or not they have the expertise to deliver this. The flexible workspace sector has never been more fluid and will continue to evolve as client demand continues to rise. It’s an interesting space to be in.