A Central Role for the Future of Flex Space

John Williams, Instant’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains what the recent announcement by The Instant Group and IWG, both longstanding members of the Flexible Space Association, means for their clients and the wider flexible workspace sector.

The office market has been irrevocably altered by the pandemic and flexible workspace holds a key role in enabling hybrid working around the world. Our recent merger to create the world’s largest, independent marketplace for flexible space will enable this move to flex space by giving client’s more access to greater market choice.

The Instant Group has worked across this sector for more than 20 years, but this current market seems like a critical moment to highlight to customers of flex space around the world the increasing nuance and complexity of our rapidly-growing sector.

Two weeks ago we announced our merger with key digital assets of IWG, including EasyOffices.com, Meetingo.com, Rovva and Worka to create a newly enhanced, independent platform to drive demand for flex space. Since that time, we have also merged with Davinci, the US virtual office and meeting room platform. The growth of our marketplace will bring more end-user clients to the sector and ensure our operator customers can connect their supply to this enhanced market demand.

In the client research that we have been conducting since the start of the Pandemic, they have repeatedly emphasised the need to connect with more of the flex space market to support their plans for hybrid working.  Similarly, our operator and landlord partners have been asking for a better route to market for their workspace products and an ability to monetise their excess capacity.

Through the Instant Group’s creation of a truly global marketplace for flex, we can support this increased demand, and aggregate more data that informs the decisions that the supply side of the market makes.

Client demands have become more nuanced post-Lockdown. Many are predicting that flex will make up anything up to 30 to 40% of their office portfolios (where it is currently >10%). They are also becoming increasingly selective in their decision-making and demanding a lot more data and modelling in doing so.

Marketplaces exist in many other sectors to offer aggregated market choice, to offer end users the opportunity to make an informed decision and suppliers to demonstrate their solutions. As businesses wrestle with the ‘return to office’, our global marketplace will empower companies of all sizes, giving their teams independent advice and full market choice about where and how they work.

With added capabilities and expertise in digital marketing, market content, and technology, the larger Instant Group will now be in a fantastic position to ensure that flexible workspace takes up more of the demand that would otherwise have gone to conventional, leased space. But we can only achieve this if we continue to train our teams in consultative selling that show our customers the full extent of market choice and collaborate with operators to produce market-leading solutions.

Our newly enhanced marketplace will serve more than 250,000 businesses in 175 countries, operating 24/7 through an integrated platform in more than 40 languages. This radically enlarged marketplace – with more than 1m sessions per month – will provide data and market choice that will enable “work from anywhere” plans for multi-national companies through to sole employee start-ups.

With more than 25,000 flexible workspace centres listed, the merger will offer the greatest access yet to the full extent of the flexible workspace market.

With this capability, we are extremely excited about the possibilities this represents for the broader market. And we are not the only ones – the initial reception from the press, flex operators and market analysts has been extremely positive in recognition of not only our strategy but also the wider optimism around the role of flex space. However, we welcome more input and I will give any of you a call or schedule a Zoom meeting to discuss this move in more detail.

For those of us who have worked in the sector for some time, there is a palpable sense of excitement that we are at a tipping point for the market. The central role of the office is being re-thought, and a more agile future inevitable. From our own analysis of flex space, we can see that occupancy remains high while the return to conventional offices is certainly lagging, all of which hints at the pivotal role that flex represents. We very much hope to play a key part in this journey and will be working extremely hard over the next two years to ensure that is the case.

22 March 2022

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