Latest Flex Office Market Insights: UK Flexible Office Space Report - Q3 2023
Do businesses still need a central office? Read on to find out.
See our Q3 2023 UK Flexible Office Space Report for more up-to-date insights on the latest Flex Office Market.
Everything about the working world has changed over the past year, inside and out. The pandemic has shown every business what policies are truly necessary for success and which processes are still around because of habit. Workspaces themselves have changed. The pandemic led to the rise of flexible work arrangements as most of the population shifted to working from home. Here's how the pandemic changed everything and how coworking operators will fit into the post-pandemic world.
Coworking spaces and serviced offices were a growing trend in 2019 as companies looked to the future offered by technology. These providers focus on flexibility for employees and employers alike, offering convenient office spaces to businesses of all sizes.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020, many people completely changed how they think about work. When gathering in person became dangerous and many governments instituted lockdown orders, creativity was essential to keep businesses running.
The result was mass adoption of work-from-home habits and more flexible arrangements across the board.
In the short term, this led to coworking spaces temporarily closing their doors while they worked to find the best and safest path forward. Soon, many of these spaces reopened with extensive cleaning processes in place and reduced capacity to minimize risk.
Meanwhile, more workers than ever were not only allowed but required to work from home. Most employees were used to going to an office daily and collaborating with coworkers in-person. While they might have enjoyed the flexibility in their day that came with the freedom from commutes and cubicles, they also encountered problems.
Communication and collaboration became harder for everyone.
People without home offices felt the worst pinch when they had to either borrow office equipment from work or make do with their kitchen tables and personal laptops. These are precisely the people who flocked to serviced offices and coworking spaces as they reopened.
As things continue to wind down with the pandemic, many coworking spaces are seeing growing attendance. Why? Two reasons.
First, coworking space managers are working particularly hard to keep things sanitary and safe because of the nature of the facilities. This helps people feel comfortable using the space's resources to do their job. Second, even people who at first welcomed the ability to work from home are finding that they appreciate the ability to collaborate with others in person. Private coworking spaces can fulfill a need that standard offices may not be set up to serve.
The pandemic's most significant takeaway is that the old model of working in a central office wasn't suitable for everyone. It lacked flexibility and restricted employers and employees alike in ways that were hard to notice until the pandemic forced a change. Many changes that have taken place over the past year fixed those problems, but other adjustments are temporary. Here are some of the changes that will stick as things return to normal — and some that won't.
People without the equipment or space to work from home long-term will want to return to the office as soon as possible. Parents of young children and people with roommates need to get out of the house to do their job without distractions. While some employees will likely want to work from home at times, many or most of the workforce will be eager to have a dedicated workspace away from the house. The entirely home-based arrangement simply isn't what most people want from their future.
One significant change caused by the pandemic was that many businesses ended the leases on their offices. As it became clear that the world was not simply going to return to normal overnight, cutting the cost of maintenance and upkeep on an empty and unused office became an easy choice. These companies noticed a surprising benefit: Cutting these costs didn't seem to be impacting their bottom line. None but the most prominent companies are likely to return to the practice of maintaining a single, centralized office in costly real estate markets post-pandemic. Instead, it seems more likely that companies will turn to decentralized and flexible offerings.
Some of the changes from the pandemic have been for the better. Here are two major changes that are likely to stick around, even when people can safely meet up in person.
The sanitation measures taken during the pandemic may not remain in full, but the future will be cleaner. From the heavy-duty HVAC systems many locations installed to clean the air to the increased focus on private office space and dedicated computers, operators like Orega Serviced Offices have made many improvements to keep things cleaner regardless of the global health situation.
Many office spaces will also focus on giving workers plenty of elbow room in a plan to keep social distancing in place. Whether that's by giving each business its own floor or specific office or simply by reducing hot-desking, each individual operator will decide. Even regular work hours may be adjusted to moderate the number of people in one place, with rotating and staggered shifts becoming the norm at many in-person sites.
When neither working from home nor centralized offices provide a single successful solution, it's clear that serviced office spaces can meet a need. By offering flexible working spaces and the ability to tailor their services to each business's needs, these locations are an excellent compromise between providing flexibility and filling the need for a place to meet in person.
There are several reasons why serviced offices are going to be so crucial in the post-pandemic world. These types of locations are more than just a compromise between different work styles. They offer unique benefits that are hard to find in any other kind of environment.
It's clear how traditional collaboration is difficult at home. When you can't talk to a coworker face to face, it's hard to brainstorm and generate ideas the same way you can in person. However, coworking spaces also encourage collaboration better than traditional offices. Without the limits of cubicles and with greater access to private meeting spaces, it's easy to collaborate more freely and more often with anyone in your company.
Coworking spaces also offer more opportunities for genuine connection, both inside the company and out. With employees working at their local sites, they make stronger connections with people in other departments who happen to live nearby. This leads to a stronger and more cohesive company culture. Meanwhile, staff can also network outside the company with other people who occupy the same serviced office. This can help a company create synergies and potentially valuable leads with other businesses.
The most direct benefit of using a serviced office is simple: money. These arrangements are an elegant cost-saving measure in the long term — not just right now. With flexible leases, a company needs to pay for space only when and where it needs it. If a business experiences a busy season, it can reserve more space and then release it during slower times. Even if every single employee is brought back into the office full-time during the busiest months, the ability to flex over time can help navigate any future challenges that might arise.
Many industries are waking up to the benefits of serviced offices and coworking spaces, and that trend shows no sign of stopping. As companies start meeting in person again, serviced offices will continue to boom as they bridge the gap between traditional offices and the future of flexible work. Employees who prefer social work environments can interact with a wide variety of people. Meanwhile, those who like to work from home will still have an option to get out of the house. Either way, companies can save money and remain flexible by keeping only the space they need. Furthermore, coworking operators have seen how successful their tailored offerings have been. They will continue to provide flexible leases and customized solutions to companies. While needs may change with global conditions, serviced offices will continue to support businesses as they discover the post-pandemic world together.
The pandemic changed many things, but not everything. It's clear that these convenient, flexible coworking spaces and serviced offices are here to stay. If anything, the past year has shown that these solutions provide the perfect combination of flexibility, convenience, and collaboration for many operations. Take advantage of the changes the pandemic has caused, and embrace serviced offices. You may want to cut the costs of maintaining an office, or your staff might enjoy the flexibility of working when and where they want. Either way, a serviced office space can help you make the most of your resources. From a single desk for a freelancer to an entire floor for your growing company, you can find the right setup with Rubberdesk.
As specialist brokers in the flexible office market, Rubberdesk is across all the options, offers and availability. We have real time pricing for thousands of spaces listed by hundreds of providers to help find your next office.
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Serviced office space offers far lower capital hurdles and less liabilities than traditional leased space, freeing up the balance sheet, an especially attractive proposition in a post- Covid 19 recovery. Additionally, the choice is not binary between employees either working from home or in a central head office. There are more options available to remote workers that can keep them safe and productive closer to home and without having to share public transport.
Coworking spaces target individuals and small teams who need workspaces but are willing — and in many cases, actively want — to share. They usually work on a membership model, meaning that tenants pay a certain amount per month for access. Members can rent a dedicated desk, meaning they get the same space every time they come in, or choose a flexible plan that lets them use any available “hot desk” in the room. There may also be options for private offices, depending on the provider.
Though there are many similarities between a coworking space and serviced office such as managed facilities and meeting rooms, they tend to differ in style and fitouts. Coworking spaces tend to be a but more stylish and contemporary while serviced offices tend to be more corporate and upscale.