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The flexible workspace revolution

The flexible workspace revolution

Demand for flexible workspace is at an all-time high, its popularity illustrated by the continued success of the likes of WeWork and Workspace, both expanding rapidly throughout the country. WeWork recently announced the opening of its second site in Manchester at 1 St Peter’s Square, one of the city’s most prestigious business locations.

2017 has seen several established landlords follow suit, developing a foothold in the market. British Land is a good case in point, launching its own offering, Storey. Given the significant demand in the market, British Land opted to create its own product rather than lease space within its buildings to third-party providers.

Between 2015 and 2016 occupier enquiries for flexible workspace saw double digit growth – and demand shows no signs of slowing.

The requirement for office space that affords businesses an element of flexibility as an alternative to fixed-term leases isn’t new – just look at Regus, an established provider of flexible office space that has been around for decades. But what has changed is demand – and the profile of the businesses seeking such space.

While flexible workspace will always be valued by young, entrepreneurial businesses in their infancy, recent years have seen larger more established companies getting in on the game.

For a multinational looking to expand into new cities and regions, flexible workspace provides the ideal solution. A few short years ago it would have been much more difficult for such a business to find attractive workspace available on more flexible terms – but times are changing.

These larger, more established businesses don’t just value flexible workspace for the commercial benefits, but also for its appeal in attracting – and keeping – staff. By 2020 half of the UK workforce will be millennials – a generation that has turned the ‘traditional’ working day on its head, gradually eroding the 9-5 and demanding to work more flexibly, where they want, when they want and how they want. They get the job done on their own terms. They also derive significant benefit from the collaborative, vibrant working environment offered by flexible workspace and being part of a close-knit community.

The way people work has changed

The ability to use technology to work from anywhere and the growth of the freelance workforce has led to organisational structures changing – companies are demanding space that has flexible terms without the need to lose the benefits of collaboration and a fluid, ever growing network.

Further developments in the way flexible office space functions will be interesting to observe in the coming months and years – a dialogue the team at Aztec will look forward to contributing to.

Office space will shift away from the functional and become more focused on experience. The office environment will become much more customer focused, more akin to that seen in the hospitality sector. Concierge-style offerings will become more prevalent, along with shared facilities including community spaces, restaurants and coffee shops. Technology will be used to allow those using the space to better interact, while smarter analysis of data will allow landlords and businesses alike to understand how people use the space, making changes and improvements in a more responsive way.

But at Aztec, we know that the proof is in the pudding – do people enjoy using an office environment? Has the business benefited by way of productivity, knowledge sharing and an increased sense of wellbeing?

Great office design is about much more than a smart shared lounge, which is why the increasing focus on experience is to be welcomed. It offers many benefits to both businesses and landlords and, combined with the ever-growing popularity of flexible office space, we’re likely to see a real revolution in the way we view the office environment.

Aztec has been successfully delivering office fit-out and refurbishment projects for more than 30 years. 90 per cent of our business comes from referrals and recommendations – testament to the excellent standard of work we produce and the strength of the relationships we build with clients. If you’re looking to fit-out or refurbish your office space, give us a call – we’d love to help.

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