Prague’s Maximilian Hotel reopens following redesign by Conran and Partners
One of Prague’s most established boutique hotels, Maximilian, has reopened after a refurbishment programme by Conran and Partners.
It is all too easy to get carried away with the juggernaut that is coworking. Although coworking will continue to grab a lot of the headlines, we should forget these alt-multi-occupancy office providers at our peril. We’ve talked to Richard Smith, Founder & CEO of Office Freedom, a leading ‘MOOP’, about their flex offering.
Today’s flexible workspace provides a habitat that supports staff wellness, staff welfare, helping companies become happy and productive places of work
What does coworking mean to you?
The industry has always suffered from a bit of an identity crisis – which I think held back the growth of the sector – serviced offices, business centres, shared space, executive suites, executive offices, coworking, flexible workspace. The problem was that different phrases were used in different countries – executive suites in the US and serviced offices in the UK. These phrases are out of date in my opinion, synonymous with yesterday’s offering – coworking and flexible workspace seem to be phrases that are being coined globally nowadays (but still two phrases!).
Has your client profile changed?
Yes, we are certainly seeing more corporate and enterprise clients being attracted to the market. Today’s flexible workspace provides a habitat that supports staff wellness, staff welfare, helping companies become happy and productive places of work. As a result, the industry has attracted large corporations, enterprise companies, tech, finance, pretty much all business types – even traditional sectors such as legal and accounting, who have previously shown little appetite for flex, have been unable to resist its charms.
The sector is now full of predominantly unbranded space that can accommodate small, medium and now much larger requirements, providing high-end contemporary space with state-of-the-art technology, amenities and facilities that are ideal platforms for nurturing and retaining the existing team and attracting new talent
How has coworking’s shift from incubated work environments for start-ups to flex space for established companies influenced your offering? From the beginning, the sector has always appealed to start-ups offering flexible, ready-to-move-into office space requiring zero or nominal capex and many more benefits besides. However, the industry had issues. Provider’s branding was widespread, large requirements were difficult to accommodate, facilities were limited, and the ‘wow’ factor was missing.
Thankfully these issues were recognised and addressed. The sector is now full of predominantly unbranded space that can accommodate small, medium and now much larger requirements, providing high-end contemporary space with state-of-the-art technology, amenities and facilities that are ideal platforms for nurturing and retaining the existing team and attracting new talent.
Newer coworking environments add value to what is essentially a rented desk. For example, Labs offer technical services and WeWork offer community. What is your USP? As a global coworking brokerage, our USP is our expertise and experience. We were founded in 1993 and were the first real estate specialist to provide global tenant-rep services to clients seeking flexible workspace and coworking space. Today, we offer the full spectrum of flexible workplace solutions, including serviced offices, coworking spaces, flexible leases, meeting rooms, virtual offices, day offices and business continuity space.
Reducing environmental impacts and energy efficiency are likely to be high on the workspace agenda
Currently, how many locations do you operate in?
Office Freedom covers the whole market. We represent over 13,000 locations across six continents and work with over 3,000 serviced office providers worldwide. Over our 26-year history we have developed great relationships with all major operators and have helped over 38,000 customers find their perfect space.
Describe what you think workplaces will look like in 20 years’ time.
With technology moving so fast it’s difficult to visualise the look of the future workplace but there are some key themes, which I expect to shape the future office environment.
I expect the drive towards more flexible workspace will continue with a focus on collaboration, employee health and wellbeing. More communal space, standing desks, enforced breaks, real time health monitoring and fitness facilities are all likely to be evident. I’d expect greater focus too on the environment and sustainability. Reducing environmental impacts and energy efficiency are likely to be high on the workspace agenda.
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