Insight/Flexible Offices

Flex workspace: The next frontier for commercial real estate

Pre-Covid trends are accelerating, and the office workspace industry is experiencing rapid change. For over 16 years, essensys has worked closely with providers of flexible workspace. We’ve recently observed a significant shift in the flex-space market – and we can no longer define it as a niche.

Some of the world’s largest global real estate brands are taking an active role in offering more agile workspace solutions by broadening services, amenities, and technology layers in the built environment to align with tenant requirements.

Recent studies point to continued demand drivers for flex space models. For example, 67% of CRE decision-makers plan to incorporate flex space into their agile work strategies, according to JLL. There’s no doubt that flex is the future. But what does that mean for CRE stakeholders?

Quite simply, it means taking a more active role in optimizing the mix and relevance of assets to accommodate occupier requirements. Before making the transition from traditional to more comprehensive, service-based real estate models, it is critical to take stock and appraise the best approach for delivering flexibility.

Service-first and tech-enabled

The days of lengthy negotiations and long lead times are over. Landlords are forced to be more agile and responsive to tenants’ needs. They are thinking about how to add direct value to their space propositions to stay competitive, avoid churn, and support complex, multi-tenant business models. The next evolution of real estate is driving landlords to take a more active interest in their assets, broaden the scope of services within them, and deliver the best occupier experiences.

Where previously adding services meant bringing in air conditioning or water services, basic requirements within an asset have expanded. They now include digital solutions to remove friction between occupiers and amenity booking and use, real time access to value added space services, and reliable and secure connectivity to ensure tenant productivity and support brand integrity. As landlords become more involved in offering market-relevant propositions, the need for tools and capabilities to activate space and deliver services on flexible terms is intensifying. A strategic, service-first and tech-enabled approach will help establish a strong operating model.

De-risk

The passive and rigid value chain approach of traditional office real estate is risky. Flex-first means being on the front foot and ready to address ever-evolving occupier demands. A proactive investment in service, amenity and tech delivery models better positions landlords to respond to changing market patterns.

Service-ready

A tech-enabled portfolio with reliable infrastructure and services prepares landlords to execute build, buy or partner models and roll out flexible propositions. A “plug and play” operating model is possible with process automation and technology that quickly and efficiently unlock flex services.

Human-centric

Occupiers are in the spotlight for landlords. Moving beyond traditional real estate models requires having the right operating capabilities to meet tenants’ expectations and demands. For them, the workspace is about connectivity, productivity, and collaboration. Adding value and flexibility to space propositions can help attract and retain tenants during volatile times.

Flex platform

A flex services platform helps overcome the inherent complication of emerging real estate models. Purpose-built modular infrastructure can support the spaces, people, and technology within the asset. It’s critical to think holistically when investing to ensure the delivery and performance of varying service requirements for multiple tenants across multiple locations while keeping a close eye on operational complexity.

Tech-enabled

Technology must not be an afterthought – it needs to be a key line item in the asset investment case. Simplified and streamlined services make for an optimal occupier experience. Bridging operational gaps while reducing handovers and the complexity of managing services, amenities and technology infrastructure underpins predictable experiences.

Secure and reliable

Nothing should be left to chance. Both physical and digital security are top priorities for enterprise and corporate occupiers. It is crucial to have the right solutions in place to meet wide-ranging digital security and compliance requirements.

The new normal in real estate is more flexible than before. Enabling agile and responsive workspaces that keep end-users productive is critical as the office market continues to evolve. More than ever, it is essential to operate with tools and systems that can support the delivery of services and the immediacy required by occupiers. Stepping into flex requires the ability to add more value to portfolio, while supporting complex, multi-tenant business models.

To learn more about delivering flexible real estate solutions, download this guide

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