Whilst the summer period often sees a seasonal relaxation in demand for flexible workspace, the past few weeks have been quite the opposite. BCA Members all over the country have been reporting positive news on expansions and new services, which is all the more encouraging (although not unexpected) amidst the current 'Brexit' hysteria.
Amongst the many positive stories that have come our way include Bizspace, which has launched a new flexible workspace location in Gateshead, and BE Offices - whose Cheapside workspace has been shortlisted in the London Venue Awards. This demonstrates that business centres can indeed match dedicated meeting and event venues for performance.
Another piece of good news comes from BCA Member and flexible workspace operator, Prospect Property Group, based in Leeds and London. Chairman Warren Hill recently spoke out against negative media reports on the impact of 'Brexit' upon the commercial property industry, stating:
"We are seeing unchanged levels of demand on serviced office centres, our growth path for that business is unchanged and enquiries in London and Leeds are at record levels." He said that Prospect is set to add another 1,500 workstations to their London portfolio by the end of 2016, and are proceeding with the planned acquisition of two more properties.
As for the wider flexible workspace industry, the BCA's latest MarketWatch Report provides a fascinating overview of current activity within the sector. The following key points have been drawn from the BCA board meeting in July 2016 and span flexible workspace activity throughout the second quarter of 2016:
Workspace Flexes to Brexit:
Within flexible workspace, operators appear predominantly confident in the sector's ability not just to ride the European political rollercoaster, but to capitalise on it. It has presented some challenges for operators over the past few months, including a slight drop in demand in some locations and slower decision-making processes.
However, it is largely expected that any dips in demand will spring back, mainly due to the fact that our industry offers a flexible service that is invaluable to business owners, particularly during times of transition. Indeed the flexibility and value of our sector appears to be shining through, placing our industry in a good position for the second half of the year.
Large or Small, Flexible Workspace Appeals to All:
Based on feedback from flexible workspace brokers, the second quarter saw impressive demand both from small businesses as well as large corporates. There was an increase in corporates seeking flexible workspace solutions, which contributed to a rise in enquiries for 25+ workstations. At the same time, small business owners at the opposite end of the spectrum were behind "a noticeable increase in demand for 2-4 person spaces" coupled with "huge growth" in coworking and shared office space, particularly in London.
North of England Thriving:
The North of England has turned in a generally positive performance, despite some areas that require improvement. Currently falling below par are Warrington and Sheffield, with Leeds and Hull achieving mixed fortunes. On a more positive note, Manchester has been described as a strong market despite some hesitancy post-Referendum, with the city centre continuing to "grow from strength to strength", whilst Liverpool has also enjoyed "significant improvement".
Parts of Scotland and Wales Returning to Form:
Despite ongoing challenges in Aberdeen, which is currently beset by a "volatile" local economy and the continuous loss of jobs within the oil and gas sectors, some operators have been buoyed by a continuous stream of enquiries for flex