The world has looked significantly different over the past two years, not just at home but in our offices. The way we look and understand our work environments may change in the coming years. Short term, this means companies may be revisiting their policies and investments in real estate. Long term, it may give way to a completely new model that supports both remote work and in-office lifestyles.
In this post, we’ll explore what the future of real estate and coworking trends look like this year and in the coming years.
Flexible Office Spaces
Though it’s easy to think the pandemic has put a halt in the growth of coworking, the opposite is true. More companies are signing up for flexible workspaces and flexible leases than ever before. According to one survey of major companies, 86% expect to use flex space as part of their strategies moving forward, up 73% from a year prior.
If you’re not familiar with the flexible office space, think of it as any office that encourages freedom and customizability— either in the cost structure, in the environment, or in community collaboration. This might include a hybrid office model (such as a shared office space used by both remote workers and in-office workers), and coworking spaces. It may also include offices with flexible leasing agreements, allowing companies to rent monthly or on an as-needed basis.
As the vaccine is rolled out across the country, companies will begin to revisit their offices and take stock of the essentials. For larger companies, they may decide that they are overspending on giant office buildings where only half their team can access it at any given time. For startups, a more relaxed lease agreement may be necessary for their survival.
Benefits of Flexible Office Spaces
Flexible agreements – Although the world is gradually returning to normal, the uncertainty lingering from the previous year will make some businesses more cautious about undertaking long-term lease agreements. Flex offices will be in high demand as companies test the waters of sending their workforce back to the workplace.
Change of pace – Remote workers stuck at home will most likely feel fatigued from all the Zoom meetings and working from home. Flex office spaces will provide a welcome change of scenery.
The sense of community – True networking has to happen in person. Whether it’s your next partner, employee, or client, you may just find the right person in a flex office space.
Hybrid Office Space
During the pandemic, many employers saw the need to have a majority of their workforce work remotely. From Facebook to Twitter, companies saw the value in updating their work policies to accommodate both in-person work and remote work. This led to an increase in searches for hybrid offices.
The hybrid office space isn’t a new concept, it combines the benefits of the existing open office space model and private offices model. It even features many traditional office amenities, such as printing and fax machines, conference rooms, and so on.
Rather, the biggest pull with a hybrid office is the option: do you want to work from home or in the office? Allowing your workers to choose can create a greater sense of autonomy and freedom. Expect to see more companies updating their policies to cater to both remote and in-office workers.
Benefits of Hybrid Office Space
More freedom – Instead of being forced to work in the office or stuck working remotely, a hybrid setup caters to both worlds. Pop in for a quick meeting or client consultation, then finish the rest of your work abroad or at home. That level of freedom is hard to come by in more traditional setups.
Affordability – Hybrid offices tend to be far more affordable than traditional office spaces. When not in use, space can be shared or rented out to another client, keeping your overhead at a minimum.
Collaborative opportunities – When remote workers and office workers have a common space to work together, creativity and collaboration naturally arise. It simply isn’t the same when attempted over a virtual conference call.
Companies Moving to Coworking Office Space
Even before the pandemic, large corporations were adopting the coworking model in droves. Some of Expansive ‘s enterprise clients include Grainger, Monster, Mozilla, Aflac, State Farm, and Accenture.
These companies and many others realize that coworking provides their brand with more real estate at a fraction of the cost. According to one figure, coworking spaces can save companies 20-40% in costs compared to traditional offices. Combined with the hybrid office model, companies can allow their employees to work remotely and come into a satellite office on an as-needed basis.
Besides the cost-effectiveness, other coworking space benefits for big companies include greater access to entrepreneurial communities within major cities. Although San Francisco is known for its tech scene, cities like Kansas City, Charlotte, and Seattle are quickly developing reputations as entrepreneurial hotbeds. The potential partnerships and inspiration gained from working around startups are immeasurable.
Benefits of Coworking
Budget-friendly – Coworking is a lot cheaper compared to the cost of any other office because the cost is split between all coworking members. This is perfect for solopreneurs, startups, or satellite offices.
Networking – Without any walls or barriers, you can meet other professionals within the space more easily. The entrepreneurial community is something that cannot be seen in a cubicle-type setting.
Amenity-rich – Coworking members get access to incredible perks, from unlimited coffee to printing and faxing services. These would be far more expensive if paid for separately.
Staying Connected with Remote and Distributed Teams
These days, it’s not uncommon for businesses to have team members scattered around the city or even the world. The modern company is increasingly becoming distributed. It helps to have a single hub or location to meet up or remotely manage your team.
Nothing beats communicating in person. That’s why businesses are starting to rent out hybrid offices or coworking spaces in major cities, where international workers can access easily from the airport, and where local workers can commute using the rail or bus system.
Benefits of Remote Work
Flexibility – Remote workers enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to where and when they choose to work.
Cost-effective – With hybrid offices and coworking spaces, you can use your office only when you need it. Instead of paying for a large office space or building, your company can invest in a few rooms that can be used whenever a remote worker feels the need to come in. This saves you money on overhead expenses like utilities, cleaning, and maintenance.
Work-life balance – Balance has become a key issue in the post-pandemic world. People are placing greater emphasis on family and personal time. Companies that cannot accommodate that need must update their standards to remain competitive.
Increased worker productivity and engagement – With remote work capabilities comes a greater sense of responsibility to the company to perform well. In one Stanford study, remote work has shown to increase productivity by up to a full workday. This demonstrates that personalization, freedom, and flexibility are actually conducive to more efficient work.
Tools for Remote Teams:
Asana – A clean and colorful take on project management. Offers a variety of views, including calendar, kanban, to-do lists, and much more.
Slack – Imagine if the customizability and richness of email met the immediacy of instant messaging— then you get Slack. At this point, it’s become an industry standard for team communication.
Toggl – Tracking time is essential to get paid. Toggl’s interface matches the minimalist feel of both Asana and Slack.
Mavenlink– A more comprehensive and detailed version of Toggl and Asana combined. Allows timesheet reports, project creation, and data forecasting.
Zoom – 2020 turned Zoom into a household name, and for good reason. The video conferencing app is still the easiest way to invite people to talk without the need for a login.
Google Drive – Gone are the days of forgetting to save and losing all your work. Google Drive allows you to store your documents in the cloud as well as collaborate with others in real-time.
The Future of the Office Space Industry
2021 will be a year to watch to better understand the direction of the office space industry. Already, it seems companies are straying from traditional office environments and leaning towards more hybrid office models.
A big trend is an increasingly fragmented market. Where coworking and traditional offices may have dominated in the past, today the split is more evenly distributed, with hybrid offices, virtual offices, and even shared offices gaining market share.
Although office space costs will be difficult to predict, expect to see more flexible, customized plans based on the company’s needs. Long-term leases will undoubtedly be more cost-effective, but companies may opt to sign for short-term leases in case they decide to move elsewhere.
Satellite offices will continue to be used by major corporations and enterprises. The benefit of having a prestigious address combined with a meeting place for local professionals is a value that cannot be replaced.
Finally, there will be a greater emphasis on live-work-play communities or areas where offices are also in proximity to homes, apartments, and local recreational attractions (such as restaurants, bars, parks, and so on).
Learn more about the various office solutions that Expansive provides here.