Top Takeaways from the Flexible Space Association Conference
It was yet another superb Flexible Space Association Conference at London’s County Hall yesterday, the sun was out in full force as were the over 200 attendees from the sector; from workspace operators of every size, and service providers from tech to marketing, PR to accountancy. It was bigger than last year’s event, and the feedback suggests it was even better too, with some really strong conversations pertinent to the transformation of our sector.
We’ve pulled together our top takeaways from the day:
What’s next for flex
Monday is back! There seems to be a consensus that we’ll probably never go back to a 5-day office week, but there is an increasing number coming back to the office on Monday following the call back to the office. Sam Mardon, Chief Customer Officer at Landmark, reminded the audience of the role of the operator in supporting businesses in this call, through arranging events, lunches and making the office a place to be; with flexible office space leading the ‘S’ in ESG.
The role of tech and AI
AI was mentioned often during the day, and despite its ability to automate – central to the flexible workspace experience is service which requires the human touch.
Flex space is increasingly becoming more popular in portfolios up and down the country. With confidence in the traditional office market struggling to get to pre-pandemic levels, GPE’s Steven Mew shared that its partnerships with operators like Runway East are a deliberate strategic approach to enliven and enhance their portfolio.
But, central to the flexible workspace sector is the need for collated data, for without datapoints, shares Christy Bowen of JLL, it is much harder to demonstrate the value flex space brings. Phil Irons from PATRIZIA shared the concern from investors who felt that the inadequate collation of data provides a perception of risk that’s not palatable, sharing that he wouldn’t support a portfolio with more than 20% flex.
Social Value and Community
Emma Hardy MP delivered a keynote speech to the conference, highlighting the value coworking and flexible workspace provides to the communities they are in; sharing that since the pandemic, employment in Hull has increased with hybrid working, yet employees don’t have options to work away from home.
Community is central to operators owing to high footfall, amenities and their location. Nick Gandy of BE Offices shared that his teammates on the ground in their spaces become friends and therapists of their users, and locals in the community. Freddie Fforde of Patch shared that his spaces are often used by local charities, community groups and those wanting to test out business ideas from hosting local knits to book clubs.
Flexible space by design offers so much to the communities they are in, adding unaccounted value to the areas they are in.
We’re already planning next year’s event: get in touch for sponsorship details, information and topics you’d like us to tackle. Before then, our next big event is the Gala Dinner on 23rd November.
You can view a gallery of photos from the Conference here.
24 May 2023
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