Flexible workspaces face the crisis with more offices, more central locations and virtual events
In the current situation, with a sharp drop in economic activity and a clear increase in teleworking, this has resulted in a decrease in the rentals of new spaces by flex operators, in line with the office sector in general. In 2020, a total of 9,120 m2 were let in Barcelona and 2,427 m2 in Madrid, with a decrease of 87% and 96% respectively, according to the study “ A new model in a new environment ” on flexible spaces prepared by Cushman & Wakefield and the flexible workspace association, ProWorkSpaces.
“The drop in hiring is due to the context in which we find ourselves and the boom in the sector in recent years, which means that flex is entering a state of maturity where it is necessary to make the spaces profitable”, explains Ramiro Rodríguez, research manager of Cushman & Wakefield in Spain.
The analysis, which was presented as part of “Conference Week”, organized by ProWorkSpaces, also indicates which solutions are adopting flexible space managers to cope with the new scenario. According to the survey of the 200 associates of the employers’ association in the sector, private offices will play a more important role – until they represent 75% of the total area and the rest, in addition to the common spaces, will integrate special rooms for virtual events. In addition, the new openings will be carried out mainly in central areas.
Adapted and scalable solutions
Startups, freelancers and SMEs are the main candidates for this type of space, reaching between 60 and 80% of hires. For this reason, consulting services for newly formed companies, offered by 22% of groups, and virtual office services, with business Internet and access to their own servers and VPN (Virtual Private Network), available are highly appreciated. in 80% of spaces.
45% of those polled believe that the employment figures will be maintained in the short term. Regarding prices, 56% of benchmarks in the sector consider that prices will remain the same and 44% of coworking groups have a loyalty plan or plan to design one in the short or medium term.
According to the real estate design office, the rental of flexible spaces will be reactivated, but there will be a relocation of these spaces to the outskirts of cities. In recent years, the suburbs of large cities have been reformed in the image of the ease that city centers represent for living, working and shopping. Millennials have moved to the outskirts of town, in fact only 15% who buy a home do so in the center. Suburban markets contain between half and two-thirds of the total office stock. “In the short term, we see that flexible suburban spaces and coworking offers are a trend for the sector and the decentralization of demand reinforces the use of flexible space”, explains Ramiro Rodríguez.
The pandemic and the lockdown have accelerated some trends that are taking their place in the office industry. According to the real estate consulting firm, the workplace will no longer be designed as a single place, but as an ecosystem of different environments that promote convenience, productivity and employee well-being. As the health crisis persists, companies are embracing new ways of using their workspace and now the office (traditional and flexible) is designed as one more part of a workspace.
Most businesses will continue to require space to do business due to three main forms of working: from home, combining physical presence in the office and virtual, as well as a model where employees do not share a location and everything is done remotely. “What determines the future of the flexible space is the viability of its economic model and the health crisis contributes to strengthening the flexibility of jobs,” adds Rodriguez.