12 November 2018 09:36:11 IST

Majority of firms to use more flexible workspace

Over two-thirds of global corporates plan to increase their use of flexible co-working spaces

A majority of global companies plan to increase use of flexible co-working and collaborative office space over the next three years as it provides them freedom to quickly expand and contract business depending on market conditions, according to a survey by Knight Frank. Property consultant Knight Monday released its report ‘(Y)OUR SPACE’ that surveys senior executives at 120 global companies which collectively employ over 3.5 million people worldwide and occupy an estimated 233 million sq ft of office space.

“The demand for flexible workspace is set to accelerate as over two-thirds of global corporates plan to increase their use of flexible co-working and collaborative space over the next three years,” Knight Frank said in a statement.

The consultant noted that a majority of global corporates occupy office space on a traditional lease model, even as numbers of co-working and serviced office operators have grown significantly.

Two-thirds of companies reported that co-working, serviced and flexible office space comprise 5 per cent or less of their current office space. A minority, less than 7 per cent, said flexible workspace exceeds a fifth of their total workspace.

However, the study revealed that “the proportion of flexible space within companies’ portfolios is set to increase dramatically.”

Over two-thirds, 69 per cent, of global corporates plan to increase their utilisation of co-working spaces, and 80 per cent expect to grow the amount of collaborative space they use over the next three years.

“Furthermore, almost half, 44 per cent, stated that flexible space will constitute up to a fifth of all office space in the next three years. An additional 16 per cent estimated that as much as half of their workspace globally would be flexible space within the same time period,” Knight Frank said.

Shishir Baijal, CMD, Knight Frank India, said the co-working phenomenon is gaining wider acceptance with the mainstream Indian occupier as big corporates today constitute about 50 per cent of the total clients.

“With changing perceptions of office, the workplace is now being looked at as an environment that needs to be managed and optimised. It is being viewed as an instrument that could drive a dynamic and vibrant culture of corporate productivity impacting financial, cultural and environmental ethos of the organisation,” he said.

The research showed that global corporates intend to operate increasingly from flexible, serviced and co-working spaces, which create a more collaborative working environment and offer freedom to expand and contract quickly according to market conditions, the statement said.

Over half of the companies (55 per cent) identified increased flexibility as the main driver of this change, with a significant proportion (11 per cent) stating that the sense of community fostered among workers was the key benefit.

A further 11 per cent stated that the greater speed to becoming operational was the primary reason for selecting co-working or serviced office space ahead of more conventional office space.

Lee Elliott, Global Head of Occupier Research at Knight Frank, said the research has underlined that a decade of global economic uncertainty has reshaped how many of the world’s largest companies view workspace.

“Shorter business planning horizons, together with the emergence of new, more agile corporate structures has driven demand for flexible space which enables companies to react to change quickly,” Elliott said.