More than just plug and play: What’s next for flexible offices?

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Offices aren’t what they used to be. The places where we work are changing shape, offering much more than just four walls, a roof and somewhere to plug in a PC. Businesses large and small are demanding greater flexibility, agility and amenity from their workspaces.

This has led to a massive surge in demand for adaptable, fully-equipped workspaces that provide businesses with everything they need, incorporated into one monthly bill. It’s a positive tide of change but with so much flexible space on the market, occupiers should only be content with the best according to Andrew Cooke, Director at Bruntwood.

Andrew says, “What we’re witnessing now is nothing less than a work space revolution, with serviced space becoming the new norm. It’s a trend Bruntwood has long anticipated - we’ve been delivering flexible, inclusive workspaces since the 90’s, so we were well ahead of the curve when the market took off.

There are obvious benefits to the type of spaces fuelling the boom, says Andrew, “Agility and easy scalability are big draws for the serviced office market – and it’s not just startups planning for rapid growth.We’re seeing lots of larger corporates looking to set up a scalable satellite offices where they can attract new talent, encourage different ways of thinking and get their brand closer to startups and entrepreneurs. Of course, the ‘pay-as-you-go’ solution provided with this type of space continues to be a really attractive cost-effective option for all types of businesses - particularly nimble, entrepreneurial companies which need to be able to adapt to rapid change.

“Offering something beyond the obvious is key to succeeding in such a competitive market though,” he adds, “What’s clear to us is that customer expectations are going to continue to rise and we need to rise above the bar and really deliver a workspace experience that is truly outstanding in order to compete.

Bruntwood’s mission to constantly evolve its serviced space offering and exceed customer expectations has led it to develop some of the most vibrant and innovative workspace buildings in the UK and Andrew is a passionate advocate of what they can offer businesses.

He says, “Creating working environments that promote wellbeing and collaboration drives much of what we do and Bruntwood has been at the forefront of this trend for many years. An effective workspace must consider and support employee wellbeing and company culture.

“We design our spaces to enhance the employee experience and bolster that sense of work-life balance that so many of us seek out. At our Neo workspace in Manchester city centre, for instance, we’ve built in the opportunity for people to collide with each other, to socialise and network in shared spaces including a lounge, roof terrace and art installation area.

“At our Trafford House building, businesses choosing serviced space have access to a programme of virtual fitness classes in a dedicated fitness suite and their employees can benefit from on-site well-being sessions.”

In terms of helping businesses to attract and retain employees, features like this can have a huge impact. We know from our customers that today’s leading talent places more of an onus on work/life balance than financial reward. Just look at the demographics – by 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce. This a generation used to services and products on demand who we know want flexible, collaborative work environments and health and fitness facilities.

“We’re focused on fostering vibrant communities in our serviced spaces – to engender positive, productive working environments that enable collaboration and creating a sense of shared purpose is key to this. We see a real desire from our customers for more social purpose and that human connection is very important to them.

“Creating positive links with the wider community and developing connections through events and activities that support charities or cultural organisations, for example, play an important role in engaging and inspiring people - giving an added richness to their daily experience and enabling new urban communities to form within the workspace,” he adds.

As the serviced office market looks set to keep booming, Andrew urges businesses to be ultra-selective in their search for the perfect workspace, “There are certain elements that now come as standard when it comes to ‘serviced’ space but the additional benefits are where the real benefits lie - and without an authentic, invested approach, it’s really hard to provide people with flexible, multifaceted spaces that is going to truly enable them and meet their needs on many levels.

“We know that in order to continue to create unique working environments that are designed to help businesses businesses and their people skyrocket, we need to keep innovating, growing and adapting. That’s a challenge we’re excited to be taking on and we believe our customers shouldn’t settle for anything less from their workspace provider.”

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