With the festivities over and the tree put away for another year, 2017 heralds the start of what is certain to be a very positive year for the flexible workspace sector.
Business centres, flexible workspace providers and co-working operators all look set to experience continued growth in 2017. The future is bright and this sector is a leading light in what may be a challenging year for some.
An industry of high achievers
Last year was an extremely successful one for the industry as a whole, with the BCA’s Annual Industry Awards celebrating the achievements of the award-winning Landmark Plc, essensys, Serviced Office Company, Bizspace and Flexioffices.
WeWork opened its 100th location in November and the sector saw companies expand and consolidate, whilst others moved into new areas and offered alternative services. Niche operators continued to grow and technology brought new innovations that allowed operators to increase the quality of the services they offer to their clients. Research commissioned by the BCA, showed that the UK sector alone is worth an astonishing £2.5 billion to UKPlc, with further growth expected over the coming years.
The BCA's Executive Director, Jennifer Brooke, appeared in Manhattan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. executive suite business centre, as a special guest of the Workplace Association of New York (WANY).
The industry has come a long way since it started and 2017 will bring more new innovations:
Will we see more workspaces on the move?
Could the technology behind virtual offices come into its own this year?
One thing is certain, technology has changed the relationship between work and the place of work, allowing us to use space in different and more flexible ways. Integrating new technology and working-practices can provide substantial gains in productivity, efficiency and cost savings.
IT support is essential for business growth and fast, efficient and secure broadband is a must have. But cyber security is an increasing issue, not just for large businesses like Talk Talk or Tesco bank, but also for start-ups and micro businesses.
Cyber security needs to be top of the agenda, particularly for an industry that supports start-ups and SMES. Almost three quarters of all small businesses have suffered some kind of security breach.
The BCA reports over 150 cases of suspicious activity each year, committed by workspace clients, serious enough to warrant notifying the police.
Medusa Business has good advice for anyone offering guest WiFi as a service to clients, which can help to minimise the potential risks.
If you offer guest WiFi do you require users to identify themselves? Medusa has looked at the potential risks and losses should you choose not to identify your users. They found that giving people an identity can modify their behaviour.
Medusa recommend that every guest is identified by email address and mobile phone, as a minimum. Guests need to understand that identity recording will protect them too.
More helpful information can be found on this subject and a copy of their booklet can be downloaded here.
May 2017 be a prosperous and peaceful one for everyone. Happy New Year and safe surfing to all!