Confidence Boost in Flex Office Sector, Survey Finds



NEW YORK (June 9, 2020) – In its second sentiment survey of flexible office providers from across the world, Workthere found that 42% of respondents are now positive about the prospects for the next three months, compared to only 25% in April. The survey also found that 74% of those surveyed are positive about the next 12 months compared to only 64% for the previous month. In the UK specifically, this figure stood at 85%.

The flexible office specialist also found that inquiries into new flexible office contracts have recovered since last month; inquiries have seen a 40% rise month-on-month globally. In Europe the rise has been 77%, Asia 17% and North America is the only region to have reported a month-on-month fall.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on commercial real estate are certainly being felt and seen throughout the flexible office sector,” said Ted Skirbunt, national director of Workthere Americas. “That being said, it’s promising to analyze the results of this survey and understand that optimism in the longer-term future of this sector is prevailing.

With regards to occupancy levels, the survey showed that respondents expect global occupancy to be 69% at the end of June, compared to the 83% pre-COVID-19 figure. Providers in the UK are expecting a similar fall in occupancy, but this would be coming from a higher base, with the survey showing they expect occupancy levels to be 77% by the end of June, compared to the 92% pre-COVID-19 figure.

Jess Alderson, global research analyst at Workthere, commented:

Our second sentiment survey shows that globally, there has been a positive uplift in provider attitudes towards current market conditions. With over two-fifths of respondents stating that they are optimistic about the prospects for the flexible office market over the next three months. We are starting to see an uplift in inquiries, which is a step in the right direction.

The survey also showed that 31% of members have asked for rent relief, with this number at 38% in Asia, 33% in North America and 28% in Europe. The most common forms of rent relief are still (1) deferring rent for a month and extending the licence agreement, (2) allowing members to downsize their space and (3) 20-50% rental discount for one month.

Cal Lee, global head of Workthere, added:

It has been very encouraging to see a shift in attitudes both in the short and longer terms, not just in the UK and Europe but further afield too. While there is a general trend towards an uptick in inquiries, we are also seeing a surge in interest for suburban flexible office space, with 37% of flexible offices saying that they are seeing most demand for these particular spaces.

With more people realizing the benefits of not commuting to a city center but wanting a quiet space in which to work with the infrastructure of a normal office space, we anticipate the percentage of suburban inquires could rise even further. Swing space (a temporary working environment) and extra space needed due to social distancing are other key sources of demand at the moment.

Workthere’s Flexible Office Provider Sentiment Survey collated 90 responses from a variety of providers in 12 countries across the world to understand their position and plan moving forward, as well as their sentiment on what the short term and long term picture looks like for flexible offices.

Note to editors

Workthere’s analysis is based on 90 flexible offices around the world, located across Canada, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, Spain, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, The United States and Vietnam. The data was collected via an online survey that we sent by email to flexible office providers. Data was collected during the period of 13th May 2020 until 21st May 2020.  A ‘member’ is defined as one membership agreement. This could be for one person or one membership agreement for 150 people.