If companies have hope of attracting and retaining the tech-savvy, well-being focused and eco-conscious workforce of today, they need to pull out all the stops when it comes to their work environment. A box room with just a desk and chair will no longer cut the mustard; today’s workforce wants and expects the workspace of the future.
But what does the workspace of the future look like? Aside from having all the bells and whistles when it comes to technology and attractive amenities, today’s employees, particularly millennials and Gen Z, want to work in an optimal office space that encourages collaboration, innovation and above all else, flexibility.
Flexible working is here to stay
Flexible working has helped to revolutionise the way in which we all work, with many industries saying good-bye to the conventional nine-to-five working day altogether in favour of remote working. But as well as changing the way we work; flexible working has also been the catalyst for a new type of workplace; the flex office.
Once only utilised by start-ups and freelancers, flex workspaces provide businesses with the opportunity to build-out and tailor a space to suit their needs more effectively. Rather than moving into a traditional office that was designed and built previously by someone else, flex offices give the control back to the business. They can put their employees at the centre of the office design, which may include sector specific workspaces, breakout areas and food courts depending on their needs and requirements.
By taking their employees' wants and needs into account, the businesses that take advantage of these flex spaces can create a more inclusive work environment, which can help them to achieve their goals of increased employee engagement, work/life balance, retention and productivity. It can also enable them to offer even more flexible work arrangements, which can help to attract top talent to their door and keep them there.
Unsurprisingly, thanks to these benefits, there has been a significant rise in the number of businesses, investing in co-working and flex offices in recent years. From managing employee overflow to assisting commuting employees and contractors, they’ve become a popular workspace alternative with a variety of convenient uses.
The future of flex space
With 77% of UK employers stating that workplace flexibility is important to them in a recent survey, the rise of flex offices is only likely to gain more traction in future. London currently holds the title as the city with the most co-working and flex working spaces, but as businesses continue adopting flexible working arrangements, flex workspaces are opening up on a global-scale and quickly!
In Europe alone, 12% of the office space industry was taken up by the flex workspace sector last year; an increase of 2% since 2018. While this might not seem like a major jump, commercial real estate experts are already predicting that the sector will continue to experience growth as more office providers want in on a piece of the action.
However, one of the biggest challenges facing the flex office industry is supply. While the demand is there, flex office providers are typically looking for buildings and warehouses with a space of 30,000 sq. ft and above and at present, plots of this size are slim pickings. As such, flex offices have not yet caused a major disruption to the office real estate market, which continues to perform well despite a change to the ways in which we work.
Nevertheless, larger, more established flex-office providers are already diversifying their portfolios to keep up with the predicted growth of the flex market, by buying out their smaller competitors. We can expect this to continue as each provider strives to cultivate their own ecosystem of organisations, where likeminded professionals can support each other by developing a shared knowledge community.
As the workplace revolution goes on and flexible working grows in popularity, flex office providers will need to continue increasing their awareness of their customers’ needs and be innovative in the way in which their spaces are used, if they want to succeed. This will be particularly important as a new generation of employees with different requirements and expectations enter the workforce.