By Austin DuBois, Assistant Director, Workthere Americas and Southeast Region Lead
The events of 2020 have placed tremendous strain on corporate office portfolio managers across the world. As employees of varying levels of risk tolerance and comfort seek interim transitionary office and meeting solutions prior to a full office return, companies of all sizes are demanding enhanced flexibility during these unpredictable and ever-evolving times. This desire for agility is not a new trend but has been rapidly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and near-term economic uncertainty. In response, flexible office providers are experimenting in real time with new contract vehicles and new product offerings are coming to market with incredible speed to pair with this demand for maximum office flexibility.
Flexible office companies and operators such as IWG (Regus/Spaces),WeWork, Industrious, Breather and many others are piloting on-demand and/or pay-as-you-go plans, making their expansive global portfolios available to users who can, more so than ever before, pay for only what they need. Global pass products allow employees, through a mobile device app, to book coworking, private office space or meeting rooms by the hour or the day, at any location across the globe. This provides corporate occupiers unparalleled agility as they grapple to balance varying levels of employee comfort and risk tolerance regarding a return to commuting to and working in an office, while also satisfying a steadily increasing desire from people and teams to periodically work in a space outside the home and convene in person. Fundamentally, these contract vehicles allow one to purchase office space access as a product of time rather than on a per desk or per square foot basis. So long as the macroeconomic uncertainty of 2020 continues, these types of products will likely continue to grow in popularity in the short and medium term.
Another solution for companies evaluating a return to the office strategy during a transition period expected in the months ahead without the long-term commitment of traditional office space is a global subscription plan, which can come in the form of an unlimited membership or limit usage to a certain number of days per week per employee. Once a more consistent space utilization pattern emerges, pay-as-you-go plans may no longer make sense economically; in which case a subscription plan is the logical next step for such teams.
Subscription services limited to a specific provider network are no longer the only options available to occupiers seeking flexibility. Another trend is emerging, led a group of third-party aggregators which allow users to access space options across multiple coworking companies and brands on a credit-based system. This is can often be a good exploratory option for smaller teams or companies that would like to test a variety of brands before deciding on a single location for their teams in a given market.
The optimal flexible office solution depends on a variety of operational variables, including the frequency and type of space each team member will be using. To learn more about what solution is best for your business needs, contact one of our experts at Workthere today for a free consultation. Our global team is well-equipped to assist in your search for the ideal office solution.