The move to a more flexible way of occupying office space is nothing new. The emergence of the modern serviced office concept coincided with advances in technology during the 1980s. The global market has grown considerably since these humble beginnings with estimates suggesting it has tripled in size since 2006 to 19,000 centres worldwide, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article.
In a recent CBRE Report, The Flexible Revolution, one of the drivers for this is identified as behavioural changes, primarily around the three areas; workplace flexibility, portfolio agility, and corporate occupiers following where start-ups have led the way.
“Some of the new players have brought something – the level of quality of the space and service have improved”
This theme was echoed in a BCO report, Office Service Standards & Customer Experience, published last year which detected a move in occupier sentiment away from the perception of office space as a commodity towards a view that office space is a service. This is underpinned by the growing realisation that customer experience is an effective means of securing the best talent.
So how have landlords and investors reacted to this demand for greater flexibility and higher levels of service? A few have developed or invested in self-delivery initiatives, such as British Land, Brockton Capital & Blackstone, but even where this is not the case attitudes have changed. Most new speculative developments have floors set aside for shared amenities and flexible space such as roof terraces, coffee shops and wellness facilities designed to attract and retain tenants. In some cases, this includes partnering with an operator to manage the facilities and address the increased demand for amenity space and facilities. In this way the tenant fit out can focus on the work space with the non-core amenity space being provided centrally.
CBRE has launched Hana which, through Hana Team, provides office space to meet the needs of large corporate occupiers. This offers flexible space with the amenities, technology, interior design, and control over branding and culture that modern corporations need.
Hana can partner with property investors who want to differentiate and enhance their assets by meeting the demand for flexible office space. Hana will design, build and operate the facilities and services, and will participate in the financial success of each Hana facility.
Each Hana facility will also feature two other integral offerings, Hana Meet and Hana Share. Hana Meet provides conference room and event space which can be rented on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Hana Share provides traditional co-working space in which users share services, amenities and technology in a communal setting.
Whilst all roads lead to greater flexibility, there is still some way to go before the demands of occupiers can be said to have been fully satisfied, either by serviced office, co-working providers or landlords/ investors introducing greater flexibility in their speculative developments. Nonetheless, it is clear that the flexible office is here to stay.