Serviced Offices Aren't the Only Flexible Workspace Option
These days, the term 'flexible workspace' is no longer limited to serviced offices and coworking spaces. Here we take a closer look at longer-term managed offices and how this style of flexible office space is increasingly appealing to corporate firms and growing SMEs alike.
Once associated with serviced offices and short-term licenses, flexible workspace as a term has mushroomed - and its meaning is now better associated with an entire industry rather than a specific type of office space.
Indeed, flexible workspace has evolved into a market that can encompass a vibrant array of workspace options - many of which are offered by UBCUK. For instance, flexible workspace includes:
- Serviced offices: This style of office space typically includes furnished office suites with all-inclusive packages (incorporating rates, building maintenance cleaning, insurance etc) in one monthly invoice.
- Managed offices: Usually favoured by larger organisations and corporates, managed offices are generally more bespoke and tend to deliver customised workspaces - sometimes in specially sought buildings - on longer terms.
- Virtual offices: Popular with small businesses and especially with independent firms or freelancers, virtual offices typically provide a business address for mail correspondence, a local phone number, call answering and receptionist services. They are 'virtual' because most of the time the business owner works remotely, only using physical office facilities on an arranged basis. That way, virtual offices are more cost-effective than a full-time office.
- Coworking and shared offices: A common office environment shared by multiple businesses, usually from different companies or working on an independent basis. Coworking is popular with startups and home-based businesses who enjoy the company of others in a collaborative environment.
- Day offices and touchdown space: A pay-as-you-go membership enabling mobile workers to drop in and use office facilities in various locations. Perfect for business owners or workers who travel frequently.
- Meeting rooms: A staple of business and serviced office centres, meeting rooms aren't reserved solely for business centre clients. They can be reserved by any business by the hour, half day or full day, as and when required.
As you can see, flexible workspace is quite simply any style of workplace agreement with flexibility at its core.
The need for greater flexibility has grown steadily and continues to soar. According to this article by John Gotley, office take-up in city centres across nine major UK cities rocketed by almost 50% during the second quarter of 2015 (research by GVA).
Of course conventional lease terms are still a viable option for long-term established businesses with a solid and proven investment in a specific location. But as Gotley explains, large firms are increasingly turning to the flexible workspace market because they do not know what their property requirements will be a few years down the line.
He argues that businesses "want room for manoeuvre, so they can potentially scale up and down, dependent on market conditions".
"The innate flexibility of a property is increasingly rising to the top of the wish list," he says, describing managed offices as a solution to bridge the "mid-term gap" through its ability to offer customised fit-outs and services.
The level of customisation is dependent on the needs of the occupier, and can range from a dedicated office suite within an existing business centre - complete with staffed reception and support - to an entire floor decked out with the occupier's own branding. Many operators, UBC included, now go even further by sourcing entire buildings and managing the end-to-end process of redesign, refurbishment and re-fitting - all of which are completely tailored to the occupier's needs.
This approach, much like a serviced office, typically removes the need for heavy upfront deposits and is provided for a monthly fee. Of course, it also comes with those all-important flexible terms.
This approach is now used widely, and as Gotley explains, it is especially prized by industries where change is expected - such as organisations with contact centre operations that are often subjected to fluctuations.
Just like serviced offices, managed office space has the ability to appeal to a wide variety of organisations, from growing SMEs to established corporates, from investment-backed startups to expanding companies looking to set up in a new location. With flexibility at its heart, this style of office space is increasingly turning heads, and balance sheets, in its favour.
Find out more about managed offices here, or contact the team at UBC for further help and advice on how this style of flexible workspace can support your business.