So you think shared workspaces are full of start-ups ?

May 30, 2019

Opinion: Jamie Vine, CEO (Originally published on LinkedIn)

Put your hand up if you think shared workspaces are full of start-ups and small businesses?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a time when shared workspaces, such as serviced offices and coworking spaces, were an occasional necessary evil for corporate occupiers. They would only be used for short term, timebound projects where their choices were limited or for market entry.

But gone are the days when flexible workspaces are a last resort for corporate occupiers, they are now an integral part of corporate real estate strategy.

In a recent report published by Colliers International, 56% of Asia’s top 200 occupiers said they were already using flexible workspace in some capacity and 91% were considering using it.

The Colliers report went on to explain the evolution of the sector: ‘Flexible workspace is a 40-year-old industry that has re-positioned itself and shaken off the drab aesthetics of the serviced office to become a hotbed of creativity and productivity characterised by compelling design.’

Serviced offices traditionally attracted small and medium-sized enterprises, together with multi-national corporations that took space for project teams, swing space or branch offices in new markets.

Coworking spaces, meanwhile, were originally filled with early stage start-ups seeking a creative hub that allowed the flexibility to grow their business.

The two have now blurred to the point of negligible differentiation, with coworking becoming more corporate and serviced offices trendier. Hence the phrase ‘flexible workspace’ to encompass both.

Any trend in real estate is occupier-led and occupiers are demanding more flexibility to directly correlate their headcount to real estate costs and move away from long-term, fixed contracts.

In addition, the opportunity to give staff mobility, a creative, collaborative and productive environment, and the ability to turn capex into opex has led to exponential growth in demand.

Jonathan Wright, Head of Flexible Workspace Services for Colliers gave the following insight, “Flexible workspace is no longer a disruptor, nor a complementary subset to the office market. It is a fundamental part of the commercial real estate market and a sector in its own right, growing in size and importance to landlords and occupiers” 

Collier’s findings also demonstrated how corporate occupiers were now using flexible workspace. The average term has doubled from 12 to 24 months in recent years which indicates that occupiers are choosing to work in a shared environment and not simply using the space as a steppingstone into a lease or for short term projects.

In addition, the size of requirements is steadily increasing. In 2015 only 21% of clients in flexible workspaces had 15 desks or more, that increased to 32% in 2016 and 48% in 2017.

These findings show a definite trend towards flexible workspaces and a growing appetite amongst corporate occupiers to operate a more efficient real estate portfolio whilst improving the facilities available to their employees.

It seems we are in the midst of a workspace revolution. Are you going to join in?

If you are in Perth and want to know more, get in touch. I will share my experience over the last 22 years in the sector with you over a coffee!

We are the workspace revolution. We are Liberty.