Published by Wybo Wijnbergen on Nov 19, 2021
Making bold predictions about what the future holds can be foolish. However, when it comes to the future of work and, consequently, the future of commercial real estate (CRE), there are some claims that we can make confidently.
infinitSpace are experts in flexible working. Our team has decades worth of experience in the CRE sector and, as such, have sharp insight into how office buildings are evolving to meet the ever-changing demands of the businesses that inhabit them.
Here are five ways the commercial property industry will change over the next five years, along with some advice as to how landlords can adapt accordingly.
The safest prediction we can make is that flexible working will become the modus operandi of most businesses. The transition away from the traditional 9-5, five-day week in the office has been underway for over a decade. But the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend.
In the UK, for example, a recent survey of businesses carried out by CBI Economics found that 93% of firms plan to adopt hybrid working models in the future. A mere 5% said they plan to work entirely from an office.
This movement is being supported by new legislation, too. Recently, the British Government confirmed that it will be giving employees the legal right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day in a new job. It follows examples already set by the likes of Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and many other European countries, which have taken a progressive legislative stance on the matter.
Fast forward five years and flexible working will be ubiquitous. The vast majority of organisations will allow employees to work when and where they want, enabling them to create a better work-life balance, and to establish working practices that maximise their productivity and job satisfaction.
The question, then, is how will the world of bricks and mortar adapt to the flexible working revolution?
The office building of 2026 will look notably different from those we have been accustomed to in recent years.
At the moment, for instance, around 6.9% of total office stock in central London consists of flexible working spaces. JLL predicts that this figure will rise to 30% by 2030. This is a conservative estimate, but trends like this will be seen across Europe.
Put simply, commercial landlords will need to convert traditional offices into flexible workspaces. Rigid, long-term leases will give way to flexible terms that allow businesses to scale their workspace in line with their changing needs.
Indeed, the flexible office market is anticipated to be worth around $112 billion by 2027, and landlords must work to stay ahead of the curve.
So, the flexible working revolution will gather pace, and traditional offices will need to undergo a transformation in use, branding and leasing terms to reflect this. The question for many commercial landlords is this: how do I create a flexible workspace in my building?
Broadly speaking, there are three options:
Crucially, landlords no longer have to sacrifice full control of their building by essentially sub-letting it to a major operator. They can choose option three, and in doing so have their own logo, design and personality stamped on their new flexible workspace.
The flexible workspaces of the future will be reliant on cutting-edge technology.
Tech will be fundamental in helping tenants to utilise the space effectively. The experience of an entire building can be improved through an app, for example, which enables users to locate meeting rooms, check availability, browse events, and, while the pandemic continues, avoid crowded areas.
More than that though, tech will support the ongoing evolution of workspace. Through apps and other platforms, data can be collected that allows both businesses and landlords to continuously alter spaces based on users’ preferences. By analysing people’s movements and behaviours, landlords will get a clearer idea of what tenants want from their office space, and set about making the necessary changes to suit their needs.
That is why white label technology is a critical part of our offering at infinitSpace. Just as with the branding and the creation of an amazing physical space, we have white label tech that can underpin the way it functions and evolves.
Offices will not act as standalone buildings, cut off from the ecosystems around them. Rather, in the years to come, CRE will become more tightly integrated with the communities they sit within.
Our CEO and co-founder Wybo Wijnbergen said it best: “Real estate has the ability to foster stronger connections between humans. Real estate has the ability to create a positive impact in local communities. Real estate has the ability to embrace technology that allows individuals in local neighbourhoods, citizens, small business owners, and office workers to connect online. And real estate has the ability, through technology, to offer access and opportunities with the purpose of bringing people closer together, igniting innovation and creativity offline.
“The future of connected neighborhoods, with the landlord in the role of the changemaker, rebel, initiator, and creator will change the narrative of the office forever.”
The CRE sector in 2026 will see offices and flexible workspaces play a greater role in the community, enhancing the overall experience for those inside the building as well as those around it.