Are Flexible Spaces the Future of Work?

Shai Fogel

11 June, 2020

What do you imagine when we say the word “coworking”?

Yes, we know. A large communal shared open space, full of people. Most of these people are freelancers or small startups. Maintaining social distancing or privacy in such an environment is a challenge.
Now think again. Most “coworking” spaces today, are essentially flexible office spaces. A good analogy is a residential building with lots of neighbors, each in their own apartment. Similarly, a “Flex Space” or a “Flexible Space” is a space where companies can reside in private offices, all sharing the same building and some amenities.
Here’s a fact: at Mindspace, more than 90% of our offices globally are actually private offices, while communal areas and open spaces take up less than 10%.
Therefore, we prefer using the term “flex space”, to better reflect the type of product and service we’re providing.

“Tenants will seek more private workspaces and fewer coworking options as health and safety concerns are amplified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”, according to commercial real estate company JLL, as recently reported on GlobeSt.com.

A “Flexible Space” is a space where companies can reside in private offices

During uncertain times we’re experiencing these days, while parts of the world are starting to reopen, companies are considering what their next steps would be, and how they can make sure their business thrives post-COVID-19.

The “new normal”

Regardless if your company had to lay-off some of your workforce or you managed to keep your head above the water, you understand by now that things will not go back to ‘normal’ quite yet. We’re all facing the coronavirus recession. The magnitude and speed of collapse in activity that has followed the lockdown is unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes, and cutting costs is the best way to earn time until the economy stabilizes. Welcome to the “new normal”.

Welcome to the “new normal”

In this new normal world, we won’t see the same people every day, public transportation operates differently, all businesses have new regulations they need to comply with, and masks are a fashion accessory we are required to wear. In this new normal, where we keep a social distance, we have to work smarter and be prepared in case a second wave of the virus hits.

Combining the financial impact this pandemic brought upon us, with the need to take care of the essential asset of every company — the employees — companies are starting to understand the (relatively) new model of flexible office spaces, is the right, relevant choice. Here are some points to help explain why:

1. Flexible terms

When leasing traditional office space from a landlord, the terms are beneficial to the landlord, and in most cases, there are no flexible terms to the contract. With most flex space providers, the average lease is on a month-to-month basis. Meaning that if anything happens, you can terminate the agreement, within a 30 days notice. It is as simple as that. Why tie yourself in a three, five, sometimes ten years contract when you can have the freedom to leave, grow or shrink at your own pace? This flexibility is crucial in these uncertain times, for any company, big or small.

2. Cost-effective

Not only the lease terms (or “membership fees” as we call it) with a flex space provider are flexible; they are also cost-effective. Starting with the security deposit; Most flex space providers ask for 1.5–2 months security deposit, while landlords ask for 6 months or more in some cases. With flex space, the security deposit is refundable within 60 days of contract termination. No CAPEX involved, as offices are plug&play, meaning you don’t need to add an extra budget for CAPEX or wait for the construction to finish; you can just move in with your computer and start working. Operational costs? Forget about it — most spaces provide full transparency on costs, and for the most part, there are no variable operating costs — e.g., service charge, insurance, cleaning, utilities, kitchen, security, FDA staff, etc.

3. More team members for less money

What this pandemic taught us is that we have to work differently. The way we used to work, the number of people occupying each office (traditional or flexible) cannot remain the same. Not for the foreseeable future anyway. Many companies talk about splitting their teams into smaller teams and other companies want their employees to work in shifts. So why pay for a big space, when you can pay for the exact number of employees working at any given time? Let’s say you are a company of 6/12/20 or more employees, and you decided to divide them into groups, and each week a different group works from the office. Following the pandemic, if the number of employees in your company was halved, the landlord will not cut half the cost. This is where flexible terms and cost-effectiveness of flex spaces come to play. Pay for the office space you are actually occupying.

4. Community

Yes, this word was exploited by some coworking/flex space providers, but at the core of every coworking space lies the community aspect. All of us spent the last few months at home, far from our friends and family, our coworkers and community, and if there is one thing we all crave right now — the sense of community. When you have people around you, people that share the same goal as you, you thrive. In most flex spaces you have community managers — folks that their job is to take care and nurture members. This sense of community is also a source of knowledge. During this pandemic, flex space providers came to the help of their community members with virtual community events, lists of benefits and relief programs, while promoting community members to other members around the world, helping them gain extra exposure to new audiences for their businesses.

Let’s go back to the office

Flexible spaces are alive and kicking, especially during this time. They offer a far more financially responsible solution, better suited for today’s reality. The high level of flexibility on all fronts is a major plus which traditional offices cannot provide. In the post-COVID-19 world, things will be different, and flex spaces will provide a safe working environment, complying with local restrictions and guidelines, leaving you the freedom to focus on getting your business up and running, as we assist you in keeping your team as organized and as safe as possible.

About the author

Shai's is Mindspace's Expansion Lead in the US Market - a results-oriented business leader with 10+ years’ experience managing teams, planning daily operations, and launching sustainable business practices, growing new markets throughout the U.S., Israel, and Europe.

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