A kaleidoscope of colour at Birdies sports and social space
Hidden under the iconic Battersea Power Station train arches, interior architecture studio SHED has created a cocktail bar and playful golf course.
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 John Williams, CMO of The Instant Group, a leading ‘MOOP’, about their flex offering.
Ways of working are changing all the time and coworking/flexible workspace allows a company to adapt accordingly without being tied into a lengthy lease
What are the three most key important elements with a coworking offering?
Coworking is a growth enabler. It allows businesses to move quickly and enter new markets, injecting flexibility, reducing cost and driving enterprise performance. You can be part of a collaborative community or take your own individually branded private space. But it’s also about the flexibility – the ability to scale up and scale down as the business demands. Ways of working are changing all the time and coworking/flexible workspace allows a company to adapt accordingly without being tied into a lengthy lease.
What does coworking mean to you?
Coworking no longer means coworking – what we are seeing now is the evolution of the flex market. The market for coworking has evolved over time to incorporate a number of different services, which now include serviced offices/executive suites, the coworking membership model and hybrid spaces (incorporating both private office space and coworking), all of which come under the broader umbrella of ‘flex space’.
With competition rife, operators are vying to attract and retain customers by increasing their offering constantly to add more value to users of their workspace
From when you started, has your client profile changed?
Back in 2006/7, pre-financial crisis, there was a certain level of prestige associated with the building you took as a business. It needed to have kudos and be seen as a statement of what the business was. Nowadays, while this is still important to many, the majority see office procurement as something that needs to be agile, nimble and able to adapt quickly. This is largely caused by political uncertainty – Brexit, Hong Kong protests – but also comes off the back of changes in the way we work. With flexible and remote working also now seen as more the norm, companies are having to rethink their office requirements.
Landlords are starting to present their buildings to the market as coworking space rather than CAT A. Is this a threat?
Absolutely not – 83% of the flexible market is currently made up of independent operators. These are landlords who are waking up to the fact that they need to offer an element of flexible space as part of their portfolio in order to cater to a wider market.
These independent operators are driving the trend of ‘niche-ification’ in the market – opening unique and boutique spaces that cater to specific audiences and interests. As they are small and nimble, these operators can really customise their spaces to provide services to very specific markets.
With competition rife, operators are vying to attract and retain customers by increasing their offering constantly to add more value to users of their workspace.
While fitness space is important to nearly half of respondents, nearly 40% saw it as adding no value. 80% of users indicated, however, that having a designated relaxation space would add real value to their workspace
How has coworking’s shift from incubated work environments for start-ups to flex space for established companies influenced your offering?
Coworking has shifted the property market in more ways than one, providing the tenant with choice and flexibility. Instant works with organisations of all shapes and sizes, including Amazon, Barclays, Prudential, Sky, Network Rail, Capita, Serco, Teleperformance and Worldpay. Because Instant works across the industry with all flex space providers, we can suggest the most appropriate workspace provider depending on the client’s wants and needs. With so much choice now in the market, there really is something for everyone.
What is your USP?
Adopters of flexible workspace are increasingly focusing on amenities within their workspace. Despite a lot of press on the popularity of free beer, childcare and exercise spaces within a workspace, Instant’s recent research showed that these amenities are no longer a pull for flex users.
While fitness space is important to nearly half of respondents, nearly 40% saw it as adding no value. 80% of users indicated, however, that having a designated relaxation space would add real value to their workspace.
Specific business-related seminars were also cited as more important; over 70% of respondents indicated that an Accounting & Funding session would create additional value for their business, as well as interest in legal advice.
Employees will want their home comforts so we may well see more sofa-focused workspaces and breakout areas
Describe what you think workplaces will look like in 20 years’ time.
The way we work has seen a seismic shift in the last 20 years and this will continue to evolve and develop as we move forward. Changes in human behaviour and developments in modern technology mean that we are already spending less time at the office.
Younger generations will choose office buildings based on the facilities on offer and their lifestyle. This isn’t just a place to come to work anymore and we may even find that our office space also provides living accommodation too.
Given the accessibility we have to the internet from home, would it be extreme to say that office spaces will soon become completely redundant?
When employees can easily work remotely or from home – how do we entice people back to the workplace? There will always be a demand of office space but providing a comfortable place to work will be hugely important, as will the amenities and perks on offer. These need to evolve all the time in order to keep up with changing interests.
Employees will want their home comforts so we may well see more sofa-focused workspaces and breakout areas. These employees will also be looking for access to their coworkers, something that wouldn’t be possible through remote working, so having collaborative spaces where teams can easily get together will be important too.
Inspiration for your next read
The last in our series looking at how the current crisis will affect the commercial interiors (and wider) world, we’ve asked a number of leading end users and workplace experts to offer their opinions on where we’re likely to find ourselves post-COVID.
Angela Bardino, Design Principal at leading professional services firm, Jacobs, examines employees’ impact on both immediate business and subsequent end user groups.