New research commissioned by essensys plc, a global provider of software-as-a-service and technology to the flexible workspace industry, highlights how there is a significant misalignment between landlords and commercial occupiers regarding the role of flexible workspaces -- so much so, that only 13% of occupiers believe that landlords are strongly positioned to serve their flexibility requirements, notes the firm.
What is clear is that space needs are forever changing and fluid. According to the new report, for some employers, the COVID-19 pandemic "has permanently altered their expectations about where their employees will work. Some have told select employees they can work fully remote forever. Examples are Novartis, Slack, and Twitter. Others plan a hybrid approach where employees will work part of the week at home and part in physical spaces such as Ford, Google, and Nationwide."
essensys said the research in the new report was commissioned from Verdantix, an independent research and advisory firm with expertise in digital strategies for Environment, Health & Safety, ESG & Sustainability, Operational Excellence and Smart Buildings.
"This new thought leadership report indicates that flex space is an entrenched market trend that will remain a core part of real estate strategies going forward. The future of this market will be won by landlords that up their game by imbedding software and technology, so that users of their flex space find it as convenient and seamless as possible," commented Ibrahim Yate, senior analyst, Verdantix Smart Buildings practice.
According to the new report, although nearly two thirds of occupiers (60%) plan to leverage flex space over the coming three years, only half of landlords (53%) are currently offering a premium flexible space option. The report reveals there is a severe disconnect regarding expectations and actual offerings when it comes to landlord and occupier opinions in the flexible workspace market, especially towards technology needs.
The report finds that almost half (46%) of occupiers believe access to higher quality technology is a key driver of flexible space offerings. While 70% of landlords understand that technology is either an essential or important component in flexible spaces, many are still falling short of occupiers' rising digital and experiential expectations. The report shows that 67% of occupiers are not fully satisfied with the data security provided in flexible spaces, pointing to a critical area of investment for landlords to consider.
The majority (80%) of occupiers said that a digital infrastructure is either highly important or important. It is something they are willing to pay for too, with over half of occupiers saying that they would be willing to pay a premium of at least 20% for technology enabled workspaces.
Premium offerings are clearly in demand. Four-in-five (80%) occupiers surveyed said that premium serviced offices (defined as amenity-and tech-rich private offices that are already fitted out for occupiers with flexibility to grow or shrink space) are an attractive offering. Yet only half (53%) of the landlords interviewed are currently offering such propositions.
The main disparity found, though, was regarding the importance of digital security. Only one third of respondents felt digital security was fully supported in the flexible spaces they had seen despite it being a key factor to providing peace of mind. This is perhaps not surprising, as 44% of the landlords admitted it was not a current priority for them.
Ease of move-in, layout adaptability, and the quality of amenity services were highlighted as key tenant requirements. When asked what enabled productivity most, 66% of occupiers thought that collaboration and networking opportunities (alongside out-of-hours access) were pivotal. However, only 19% of landlords felt that tenant engagement applications were high impact for occupiers.
As stated by essensys:
There is no doubt that flexible workspaces are the future, however there are gaps in expectations that need to be addressed. essensys' Flex Services Platform helps landlords and flexible workspace providers to solve the complex operational challenges, risk and unpredictable costs as they adapt to meet occupier expectations.
"This report speaks to the increasing occupier demand for more flexible, experience-focused and tech-enabled workspaces and services," concludes Jeremy Bernard, CEO, North America at essensys. "We're experiencing a digital transformation of the office and it's critical that landlords align their technology strategy to deliver the premium in-building experiences that occupiers expect today and in the future."