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With the WeWork IPO still making headlines, you’ve probably had plenty of conversations about co-working this month. But you might not realize how dynamic this space really is.
There’s so much more to alternative office space than WeWork – or even just co-working. Flexible office space is worth understanding, because it might change your life while changing the way you work.
That’s where we come in. From shared office suites to larger scale enterprise solutions, there’s a lot more to the flexible workspace market than you’ve seen on the news.
Read on for a brief history of flexible workspaces, and the three major categories you need to know.
What is a Flexible Office?
As detailed in CBRE’s Canadian Flexible Real Estate Report, technology is changing how and where we work. Flexible office space operators – including WeWork, Spaces, and Convene – have led the way with alternative designs, which private companies are beginning to adopt themselves.
At first, there was the “serviced office,” where users could pay to access to a shared work suite with a limited number of amenities – think business centres like Regus.
It was created with individuals, small startups and remote workers in mind, teams small enough that they didn’t need a more formal (and expensive) office, but still wanted the benefits of a workplace environment.
As this model started to gain traction, more and more businesses wanted to experience the benefits of flexible work. In response, flexible workspace companies created a wider range of options, built for everyone from individual workers to enterprise organizations.
Co-Working is easily the most well-known term in the flexible office space landscape. Likely you know a freelancer who has discussed the merits of a co-working membership, or a co-worker who works remotely from their closest co-working office.
Here’s the breakdown: Co-working offers users a monthly membership with a set fee. For this price, they’re given access to a shared office space where desks are first-come first-serve, and workers share amenities like a kitchen or fitness area.
It’s dynamic space with users from a variety of industries. This can encourage a cross pollination of ideas and supports innovative thinking without the burden of traditional office lease costs.
Canada’s major co-working offerings include Spaces and WeWork, though these companies also offer other flexible office solutions, as we’ll discuss below.
Another flexible office offering is “suites.” Best suited to smaller companies looking to prioritize flexibility while they scale, a licensing agreement of three months or more is signed for a closed space with dedicated desks.
Suites often exist within a larger workspace that also contains a co-working area. Companies who have paid for a dedicated suite will share other amenities with co-working users.
Regus pioneered this flexible office model in Canada, while Servcorp and Carr offer it as well.
One of the newest flexible offerings, the enterprise office model has emerged as larger companies seek the benefits of a flexible workspace – the ability to scale with ease, a simplified leasing process, modern amenities – while being able to brand and maintain control over their surroundings.
Companies can sign a licensing agreement for a year or more to gain access to dedicated private floors, which will be designed to their specifications.
WeWork, Industrious and Spaces all offer enterprise spaces, with WeWork announcing its latest enterprise location at Bloor and Bathurst this spring.
The Future of Flexible Work
Leading companies are now expected to incorporate flexible workspace models to create modern offices that attract top talent. Landlords also need a mix of tenants, including flexible office operators, that will allow them to adapt their portfolio to the changing needs of business.
Flexible office is here to stay, and we’ll likely see different office uses evolve quickly in this dynamic space. CBRE has the industry-leading research you need to stay on top of this growing trend. Let us help you stay informed and get ahead.