In an awesome article about flexible workspaces and coworking headlined “A New Workforce Demands New Real Estate Solutions”, Marcus Mourfarrige COO of Servcorp, a global provider of luxury flexible workspace, discusses the way several notable trends are quickly making flexible workspace arrangements a must for for all businesses. Coworking is one such trend. Read on for others:

As automation continues to transform the way we live and work, even the world’s largest and most strategic firms are struggling to predict what their workforce will look like in the next five to 10 years. Further, as more workers opt for the work-life balance of the 1099 economy, corporations will need to provide real estate solutions that meet the needs of contractors and consultants who come and go on their own schedule. As the chief operating officer of a flexible workspace provider, I’ve certainly observed a steady uptick in the number of individuals who rent a hot desk with us a few days a week.

By offering flexible leasing arrangements and committing to improving their internal technology and services, building owners can stay ahead of the curve and satisfy their customers for years to come.

An Uncertain Future Requires Flexibility

Historically, commercial real estate has been an all-or-nothing proposition for large corporations. Leases cover entire buildings or at least entire floors, and they run for 5 or 10 years at time. As such, corporate real estate officers have typically been left with two choices: either they can take the leap and enter into a binding, long-term deal, or they can stand pat with the space they already have.

As automation and artificial intelligence continue to remake the global economy, corporations will increasingly find that these arrangements no longer meet their needs. With so much change happening so quickly, there’s simply no way for businesses to predict how much space they will need 5 or 10 years down the road. After all, the last thing a company needs is an empty floor sitting on their books for years at a time.

As businesses demand different accommodations, developers will need to deliver. Fundamentally, this will require developers to stop thinking of renters as “tenants” and start thinking of them as customers. Indeed, it will soon no longer be enough for property owners to do the bare minimum of collecting rent checks and reaching out to renters every 10 years when the lease is up. Instead, developers should work to win the business of their customers by offering the flexible arrangements they crave and providing better customer service.

One way property owners can stand out among potential renters is by using technology to create a better renting experience. As an example, developers should consider building out an operating system for their buildings that give companies more control over their surroundings and make it easier to manage their space. Rather than forcing customers to call their landlords every time they want to adjust the heat or let in a guest for an important meeting, developers can allow renters to solve these problems themselves with a streamlined software solution.

On-Demand Workspace For On-Demand Workers

Of course, it’s not just companies that are going to be seeking out flexible working arrangements over the next several years. Empowered by digital communications tools, today’s workers are opting for project-based and contract work over traditional, full-time jobs. In fact, some believe that the United States will be home to a majority freelance workforce before long.

For developers, it’s crucial to give these workers as much attention and care as corporate customers. The real estate firms that will be most successful in the on-demand era are the ones that are most proactive about developing tools and services that facilitate more productive, more pleasant work experiences. Instead of merely offering freelance workers conference space at a flexible office, real estate professionals should go the extra mile by providing software that allows them to easily book a room in advance.

Since so many on-demand workers are choosing office spaces out of a desire for community, developers should seek to help them build connections with other workers. By planning networking happy hours, professional development sessions and group recreational outings, property owners can create added value for freelance renters — without adding a whole lot to their overhead. Already, we’re seeing firms that cater to startups deliver these sorts of services, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been so successful.

A New Way Of Working Is On The Horizon

And it’s on us to adapt. While businesses may be hesitant to abandon the way they’ve always done things, the truth is that there is no stopping the transformative changes that are already reshaping the workplace. Over the next five years, we predict that flexible offices will grow from 2% of the commercial real estate market to 20%.

Is it time to find the optimal coworking flexible solution for your firm and employees? If you have invested time and money into your staff you may have no choice but to provide this flexibility as more and more employees will demand it.  99spaces has heaps of amazing coworking options to suit all tastes and sizes, whether by the seat, or by the suite.

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