Flexible offices set to account for 30% of all offices, say commercial brokers

Globally, demand for, and growth in popularity of flexible offices has grown in the past few years.

Flexible offices set to account for 30% of all offices, say commercial brokers

Users can choose from a range of options including hot desks to spaces in shared office spaces.

Pre-Covid-19, global flexible offices, co-working and shared offices accounted for 5% of the office market with an estimated value of $26bn. The flexible office sector has grown 15% year-on-year over the last five years.

JLL predicts that by 2030, flexible offices, shared, serviced and co-working spaces will account for 30% of all offices. Demand will continue to increase as a result of Covid-19, albeit, differently than before the pandemic.

South African company Sisebenza and Australia’s Office Hub have launched an online portal to help tenants find the right properties.

Established in 2014, Office Hub operates in 15 countries, and South Africa is the first African market for the company.

Andrew Robinson co-founder and executive director of SiSebenza, says the economic slump, exacerbated by Covid-19 has left SA businesses overcommitted on floor space.

“Companies are increasingly moving to remote working or distributed working models to reduce occupancy costs. Some are downsizing, moving out of, or breaking up their existing office spaces.”

The investment case for flexible offices is strong. “We think it was the right time to launch a proptech marketplace for tenants and owners to find each other.”

What makes this partnership different is the investment in both tech and people on the ground, he points out.

“The digital process has to be driven by people and demand. Sometimes, a catalyst event such as Covid-19 is needed to push it into the spotlight.”

Trends in flexible offices

Robinson says the need for space is demand-led and the power has shifted to business owners who are looking for space as a service. “Space as a service model is a bit like a subscription service. Users take-up space for short or long periods with required added-value services such as a receptionist. They only pay for what they use.”

The office is becoming more of a consumer-led product than ever before, says Robinson. Trends suggest that this evolution will continue growing and include the fact that:

Big offices are dying

Companies no longer need big and expensive offices as they have become a liability. The office will remain a place of connectedness to teams and systems, and companies may look for flexible offices.

Move to secondary nodes

The decentralisation into suburban office parks and regional offices in secondary cities will become more popular as teams work remotely. Co-working and flexible spaces therefore enable teams to still go into the office closer to where they live.

Flexible offices and co-working solutions are a vital part of commercial real estate strategies for businesses going forward,” says Robinson.

Office Hub marketplace

Property owners can list real-time inventory, says Office Hub founder and CEO Grant Philipp.

The AI-based technology is backed by a team of property specialists who assist both the tenant and workspace owner.

Robinson explains that Office Hub hosts any kind of space available to rent. This includes co-working, flexi and serviced offices and even sublets.  Already, the platform has over 1,000 spaces listed nationally.

Users looking for flexible offices will not a pay a cent for the interactions, advice and assistance with property specialists. Property owners will pay a commission on successful conclusion of a deal.

In traditional lease agreements, users pay for all the space all of the time. The boardroom used for an hour a day may work out as being costly at the end of the month, as an example.

Space users may need to recalculate the actual cost on a use basis rather than a per square metre basis. As a result, the flexibility, cost and culture benefits come in at a more affordable price, hence their popularity.

According to Robinson, technology is no longer an option – it is essential in facilitating real estate transactions. “What Tinder did for dating, Uber for rides and Airbnb for accommodation, proptech is bridging the gap between landlords and tenants.”

Published on Biz News