Pandemic aside, flexible office space has brought about one of the biggest revolutions in real estate for over a century—appealing to businesses of all shapes and sizes due to the choice, flexibility, and access to key locations it affords.
But what exactly is flexible office space? What kind of businesses does it suit? And how do you go about finding your own?
As seasoned experts in the flexible office space industry, we’ve laid out everything you need to know in this comprehensive article.
First things first, what is flexible office space?
Flexible office space, which we may also refer to as flex space, is an all-encompassing term for several types of workspace, including:
- Serviced offices, such as those in Leeds and Birmingham
- Managed offices
- Shared offices
- Coworking spaces, such as those in Bristol
- Hot desks
What makes these types of workspaces ‘flexible’ is primarily their minimum terms; while traditional leases typically require you to sign on for 5-10 years (if not more), flexible office space requires much less commitment—some even have monthly rolling contracts.
Often serviced, flex space also takes the hassle out of office management—as utilities, bills, and the day-to-day running of the building is managed by another company, with costs simplified into one all-inclusive monthly fee. Flexible office providers include big brands like WeWork, boutique brands like Second Home, or blank canvases where you can build your own brand.
For context: London is currently the flex capital of the world. At the beginning of 2020, there was more than 17.1m sq ft of flexible office space in the UK capital—over 7% of its total office stock (ten years before, that figure was just 1.9%).
Once written off as a fad, flexible office space is now growing rapidly in terms of both popularity and supply; pre-Covid, it was predicted that flex space would account for 30% of all office stock by 2030. But given the huge increase in demand for flexibility in light of the pandemic, this growth is expected to happen even faster.
What does flexible office space include?
The facilities included with a flexible office varies from space to space, but in general, it typically includes all your office essentials such as furniture, cleaning services, high-speed internet and security staff, to name a few.
On top of this, most serviced and managed offices tend to offer additional amenities on top of these. These can include:
- Meeting rooms
- Breakout space
- Reception staff
- Unique event space
- Gym facilities
- Shower rooms
- Bike storage
- Fitness and wellness classes
Usually, businesses can use these as part of their all-inclusive rental package (one exception is meeting rooms, which some providers charge on a pay-as-you-use basis). The idea is that your office space is up-and-running from the get-go.
What are the benefits of flexible office space?
Flexible office spaces are renowned for their hassle-free nature. A separate party will deal with all day-to-day maintenance demands—from ensuring the WiFi and lifts work, to ensuring your office is ready to use from Day One.
Speed of move-in
Turnaround times for flexible office space are also much faster—you can sign a contract and move into a fully-functioning office in a matters of weeks, if not days. The main thing to factor in is time for customisation if you have a more bespoke fit out requirement. But typically, the process is much quicker than for leased offices. We’ve even helped companies find and move into a serviced office in less than 24 hours!
As you pay an all-inclusive fee each month, budgeting comes easy. With fixed rates and no surprise bills to worry about, flexible office space gives businesses greater control over their cash flow and allows you to focus on more important matters.
Flexible office space gives businesses much more agility when it comes to catering to rapidly evolving customer and market expectations.
Whether you’re a startup with a growing headcount or a more established business that’s decided to distribute teams across multiple locations, these workspaces’ flexible contracts give you room to grow, shrink, or diversify at your own pace.
Working from a flexible office space can also increase a company’s visibility. Since you’d be working in a collaborative space where many businesses operate under the same roof, networking opportunities are plentiful. You can find freelancers to hire, collaborators to join forces with and even potential customers to help grow your businesses reach.
While flexible office space provides opportunities for collaboration with other like-minded businesses, it can also promote teamwork amongst your employees. Amenities such as breakout space and meeting rooms are perfect facilitators for organic conversations, brainstorms and relaxation, boosting team morale, bonding and productivity.
Many serviced offices provide high-quality facilities, such as event space, baristas, and gyms, that businesses wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This can be hugely helpful in attracting and retaining talent.
In light of the pandemic, many companies are choosing to adopt a hybrid approach to working—with employees working across a mixture of the home, the HQ, and other third spaces. Flexible office space offers a variety of solutions that can make this way of working easy and cost-efficient. Find out more.
More equal opportunities
The benefits of flexible office space can extend beyond businesses to society as a whole. New research, conducted by the Government-backed Behavioural Insights Team, has found that flexible roles can boost equal opportunities, as the number of women applying for senior internal positions rose by 20%. The study also found that flexible working can reduce geographical inequalities resulting from COVID-19—and this is where solutions like ‘Hub and Spoke’ and hot desking can come in handy.
Is it more expensive to rent a flexible office space?
The short answer is: it depends what your plans are.
Generally, businesses will pay a premium on flexible workspace rent in return for lower minimum terms, zero hassle, and good facilities. But this flexibility lets you grow or shrink your team (or even get rid of your office entirely!) at a month’s notice, rather than being tied in for 5-10 years—meaning you’ll only ever pay for the space you need at any one time. In that sense, flexible office space can often work out much more economical.
Another financial benefit is the cash flow. With flexible office space, all costs, from rent to fitout, will be bundled up into one single, monthly fee—meaning you can maintain a more regular and predictable cash flow, without the hefty upfront costs typical to leased offices.
However, if you’re an established business who is looking to fit out their workspace to their exact specification and stay in that office for a period of 5 years or more, and you do have the means to cover any upfront costs, then leased office space is usually a more suitable and cost-efficient option.
What size company suits flexible office space?
Flexible office space is valuable to businesses of all sizes because of the choice and flexibility it offers. So, whether you’re a startup, scaleup, SME or corporate, there’s bound to be a flexible workspace solution that’s right for you.
Not sure where to start? We can help. If you’d like to learn more about what flexible workspace solutions are available to your business now, get in touch.
What is the minimum contract period in a flexible office?
In many cases, flexible office space offers a minimum contract period of one month; this is most prominent in serviced offices, coworking spaces and shared offices.
Hot desking also offers a minimum monthly contract period. However, some workspaces allow you to rent a desk on a weekly, daily or hourly basis.
Due to managed offices’ bespoke nature, they require a little more commitment, with the average contract length being between one and three years.
What type of businesses can benefit from flexible office space?
Before the pandemic, flexible office spaces were well-suited to freelancers, startups and more established businesses looking to build their brand but still enjoy the comfort of shorter terms.
But now that ‘flex’ has taken office culture by storm, flexible office solutions can benefit businesses of any size and calibre. For example, bigger organisations who’d like to downsize their office footprint can incorporate flex spaces into their workspace strategies, allowing employees to tap into local workspaces as and when they need it.
If you’d like to find out what flexible workspace strategy will benefit your employees, try our free-to-use Workplace Strategy Tool, designed to help you understand how and where your teams want to work in the future.
How can I find a flexible office space?
As experts in all flexible office solutions, Hubble can help you find the perfect office space for your business. We’ve built the UK’s largest online marketplace for office space, which allows you to search and compare the whole flexible office market. Our expert team of advisors are also on hand to help you negotiate the best deals, deliver bespoke solutions and ensure that a flexible office space is the right fit for you and your business.
If you’re looking for an extra-flexible solution, you may like to try our Hubble Pass—which allows businesses of all sizes to access hundreds of on-demand workspaces across the UK and selected international cities—from LA to Lisbon. With it, a company’s employees can access convenient workspace, with top-notch facilities (including super-fast WiFi, phone booths, and meeting rooms) whenever they need it. Perfect if you’re adopting a remote-first or hybrid working strategy in the future.