One of the most common questions we get asked is how to compare flexible workspace vs conventional office leasing. Deciding how and where you work is unique to every business, employee, and employer. While this renewed perspective on flexible working was already trending and growing, Covid has accelerated its arrival into this new world of work.
While some establish a working from home model, some are looking to blended solutions, while others consider it by department or job role – the potential is endless. The real estate strategy for every business in terms of their office space is now being questioned.
So where do businesses go from here? With so many options, seeking solutions in the market can be overwhelming. Understanding both flexible and conventional office solutions can help any business make the decision as to which could work for them, and that’s the key – the solution should work for you, so you can work on what matters.
FLEXIBLE VS CONVENTIONAL WORKSPACE
One of the first factors people look at when comparing flexible workspace vs conventional is cost. A conventional lease means leasing of the physical space, whereby all set-up and services costs (such as IT, rates and utilities) are separate. There may also be a fee to reinstate the space before returning it at the end of the lease. In a serviced office or flexible workspace your monthly fee is for the rental of the space but includes utilities, rates, on site support teams and additional services that can be customised depending on what you need, and wrapped up into a monthly fee.
Flexibility and Contracts
With a conventional lease, you are contracted for the entire term. In Dublin, Ireland – typically landlords are looking for a minimum of “10 years term certain”. This means, a landlord requires a tenant to sign into a minimum of a 10-year contract with no break options. As a business, if you know your long-term plan on staffing and growth for the next 5-10 years, then a conventional space may be optimal, as you can take space that will accommodate that growth from the outset.
If a company opts for a flexible workspace solution such as coworking or serviced offices, typically contracts are for a period of between 1 month (rolling) and 3 years with most parties opting for an initial 1-year contract to start, which can be renewed thereafter. You also have the ability to trial the product before long-term commitment, with workspace contracts from as little as a day or a week.
For a lot of companies, especially right now, if they don’t know where they are going to be as a business next year, never mind in 10 years’ time, flexibility makes a lot of sense. Equally for companies who are expecting to grow quickly – serviced offices & coworking provide the ability to grow into larger spaces within the building without penalty, meaning they can minimise the amount of space they need to occupy, which transpires into cost savings.
Conventional leases are agreed at set costs per month for the term which can be beneficial for long term budget forecasts. Flexible workspaces on the other hand, mean flexible contracts so you can scale up or down, and your contract will do so with you. In addition, flexible operators may offer more flexible payment terms to aid cash flow.
Space to Suit Staff
If you were starting a business today and were hoping to grow to 100 staff in the next 5 years, you would need to commit to space for those 100 people now with the conventional lease option. With a flexible workspace solution, you could opt for an office for up to 4 people now with your provider offering you a growth plan to incrementally increase your office size as you expand, thereby decrease your monthly startup costs significantly when compared to that of a conventional lease.
Both flexible and conventional office spaces can be reconfigured into a blended office model, which many businesses are now considering. Should you decide to reconfigure the office to incorporate a rotation system you can do so with either office solution, however, you will naturally have even greater flexibility with the flexible office solution. Transforming a conventional office space into a hybrid or rotation system means you will have a lot of excess and unused space. Whereas with a flex office you can easily downsize to a more suitable office size and utilise your space better. Have a team in for meetings only, adjust part of the office to coworking hub for blended working, or introduce a rotation system – it’s all possible with adaptable terms.
Service and Support
With a flexible workspace you can sign up today and move in tomorrow. The flexible workspace operator or serviced office operator will complete your office set-up for you to include: making sure your IT set-up is correct, your telecoms are ready to go, all furniture is in situ the way you want it, and everything right the way through to having your coffee at the ready. There will be a team in-house and on-hand to support at every step as part of the package.
All of this can be done in a conventional space but you need to contract and cost for those services separately. You also need to add in the time it takes to manage all these costs for a company taking conventional space. In the initial stages, you typically engage an estate agent to represent you in the acquisition, to physically search and view office space, as well as negotiate and agree your preferred space. Once space is agreed, they will complete a building survey, proceed through the legal process, and arrange for refurbishment works to take place such as; carpeting, painting & upgrade of IT cabling, sourcing and purchasing of office furniture and incidentals, purchase of telephone system, broadband installation, and requirement for IT company to manage your network.
When it comes to comparing flexible and conventional workspaces, one of the greatest differences can be the community. Typically when you take conventional space you are taking space associated to your company in isolation to other businesses, which can be appealing for those who value their own isolated private space.
When you take space from a flexible provider you are in a location surrounded by like-minded peers from all different industries, yet still maintaining your own private office within the flexible workspace. Not only does this mean greater networking opportunities but it also means your staff can benefit from the social elements too. Flexible workspaces usually organise weekly and monthly events for their members giving them a chance to come together, network and blow off some steam. Having these added perks for staff is more important now than ever, with many employees getting a taste of working from home during Covid, your physical workspace must be compelling enough to entice workers to commute in. Not only this, but having these events organised for you and your company is yet again, another saving on time and overheads.
Covid Safety Measures
Those returning to a conventional workspace in 2021 and 2022 will have to account for the planning and investment when implementing safety measures against Covid-19. If you have a conventional space, you have control over the safety measures you want to put in place, but this also means you have the responsibility in doing so. Consultants can help you in doing this to ensure you are covering all basis but you will have to take account fo the costs and time associated.
Flexible or serviced office providers establish these protocols in their buildings on behalf of their clients, which helps to save you (as the business using the space) on overheads. As a workspace provider, it was imperative for us to invest heavily in safety measures to ensure we could provide a safer working environment for our staff and members. For us, these measures include temperature scanners on arrival, sanitisation stations located throughout each building, increased ventilation where possible, increased overall cleaning, Plexi-Pods workstations, as well as social distancing measures in place throughout. You can read the full 16 point plan on our site here.
If you would like to find out more on flexible workspace or how it can help your new workspace planning, simply complete your details below for a free consultation with one of our solutions experts.
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