Choice and quality of flexible office space increases: Colliers

Greater choice of location and better specified offices are ahead for flexible office occupiers according to a report by Colliers.

Flexpansion 2021, which analysed 36 EMEA markets, found that flexible workspace operators are expanding because many organisations are permanently adopting an agile working policy with some moving away from the traditional office model altogether.

The report said that there are 43 new operators in EMEA market and while the larger examples dominate, there has been a rebalancing because of the entrance of new operators and rationalisation of space.

“As occupier demand for flexible workspace continues to grow, more operators are battling for market share, and are adapting their offering with enhanced concepts and higher quality products – which will facilitate more choice and flexibility for occupiers,” said Tom Sleigh, Colliers’ head of flexible workplace consulting, EMEA occupier services, Colliers.

“The development of more products will, in turn, likely deliver better facilities as flexible workspace providers differentiate their facilities to draw in occupiers.”

There has also been substantial growth in concepts driven by landlords.

“Across the region, 33 new sites totalling 90,098 sq m have been opened since 2020, with 19 openings last year,” Sleigh said.

“This is partially in response to the pandemic as landlords realised they need to adapt their office offering.”

Growing requirement for decentralised space

The report points out that demand from flexible workspace operators to acquire space in central business districts (CBDs) remains strong, but as workforces become more widely distributed as the ‘work from anywhere’ approach adopted by organisations, the demand for decentralised flex-space has grown.

A combined 256,000 sq m opened across inner and outer city locations, narrowly surpassing the 252,000 sq m opened in CBD locations.

By market, the greatest decentralisation of flexible office space occurred in Barcelona, Cologne, Warsaw and Munich last year. In contrast London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen further centralised their space offer.

 “I’d predict further growth outside of CBDs in the coming years, as operators respond to occupier demand,” said Sleigh. “Inner and outer city locations have a combined 58% share of pipeline commitments.”

He added that it is not just in the location of space where decentralisation will be seen.

“A redistribution of player power is underway with the pipeline space allocated to the IWG/WeWork duo dropping to 16.2% by the end of last year versus the 66% pipeline share they held in H1 2019. ”