Continuing our focus on the diversity of flexible workspace, we speak to Dominic Muscat of BucksBiz, a family-run flexible workspace operator with seven locations in and around Milton Keynes.
The flexible workspace industry is enormously versatile, offering a diverse range of workspace accommodation to businesses large and small, catering to virtually every business sector imaginable.
Recently, we discussed the merits of flexible storage services on the BCA blog, and how such solutions were enriching the sector and enabling it to adapt and evolve to suit emerging business needs. Continuing our focus on the versatility of flexible workspace, father-and-son team Joe and Dominic Muscat of BucksBiz - an established operator with seven sites around Buckinghamshire - tells us that their blend of mixed-use space is enjoying its "highest level of interest ever".
Offering a blend of flexible work units covering serviced and managed office space, industrial, light manufacturing and storage space, BucksBiz attracts a wide range of businesses spanning a huge range of industries.
"Our clients range from financial firms to dance tutors," said Dominic. "We have media firms, solar energy, creative industries and many more. Our range of space means we can accommodate businesses from all walks of life."
The key to attracting such a diverse range of sectors is a versatile blend of space and a flexible approach. But Dominic also believes that the fresh decor and "health club feel" of their business centres help.
"We have over 20 years experience of running business centres, and we have developed a laid-back feel that's not stuffy, or industrial," Dominic explained. "Our clients enjoy enormous flexibility, from their contract terms right down to the dress code."
According to Dominic, their office space performance is "buoyant". The firm expanded during the recession and has doubled in the last four years. And at MK:ONE, BucksBiz has taken on two new buildings as part of an expansion plan on the site.
However, as with any business, there are challenges to overcome.
"EPR (Empty Property Rates) is damaging the industrial sector, and it's challenging for us," said Dominic, referring to the current high rates of taxation levied on empty commercial property space. "It also affects our expansion plans as we have to weigh up how long it will take to complete a building and build a client base, without having to pay high empty rates."
He added: "We also find that there is a lack of knowledge about the serviced and flexible workspace sector, which means businesses try to compare our prices with that of conventional workspace." BucksBiz is not alone in this problem, and flexible workspace operators everywhere must continue to educate businesses on the merits of this style of workspace.
Despite this, BucksBiz is enjoying a healthy performance and the firm's Newport Pagnell site, which they acquired two years ago, moved from 0% occupancy to 98% within that time frame. Overall, conversion rates for their office space sector is described as "through the roof", and BucksBiz are also enjoying their "highest level of interest ever".
With over 20 years in the flexible workspace business, Dominic realises that the industry never stands still for long, and there is always something new to learn. He has recently completed both days of the BCA Learning Academy, which focuses on various management and customer service skills, and demonstrates the firm's commitment to evolving business needs.
Amid positive performance in terms of interest and occupancy, BucksBiz demonstrates the strength and versatility of the sector and how it continues to offer an essential service to a vast array of small and medium-sized firms, from all walks of business life.