What’s in Store for Flexible Workspace in 2023

As the new year gets underway, the Flexible Space Association’s Executive Director, Jane Sartin (pictured), looks at what might be to come for the flexible workspace industry over the next 12 months.

Many people have stopped predicting, after two turbulent years. It’s tempting! But I’m pleased to say the flexible workspace industry had a buoyant 2022, and recent research by The Instant Group showed that the demand for flexible workspaces has grown by 22%. Here are my predictions for the industry as we move 2023: 

Hybrid will become established as a permanent fixture, with ONS figures showing a clear rise in the proportion of workers in hybrid roles. Workspaces are already helping businesses adapt to hybrid working, designing for this type of work and adapting spaces to ease people into hybrid use. To take just one example, UBC’s hUBClub is specifically aimed at supporting hybrid working, and it’s an area that large operators such as Regus have adapted their services to meet the needs of.

Of equal importance is the resurgence of coworking, which has become an affordable solution for SMEs and micro businesses who want office space and to work amongst peers. A newly launched FlexSA member – COBALT in Cardiff – has ensured coworking is front and centre of its offering. Providers will increasingly see the value in offering shorter access periods – of hours, as well as half days and full days – throughout the year. Spaces will continue to adapt to accommodate it. 

Industry networking is having a resurgence and in 2023 people will look for even more opportunities to meet face-to-face with industry peers. Savvy workspace operators have introduced networking as a core offering this year and this will increase next year. People will also look to the media and associations they interact with to host more in-person events as the world continues to open up.  

Tech in workspaces is nothing new – what is changing is its use for businesses at all levels as sensor technology and monitoring become the norm. Efficiency will be the buzz word and affordable technology will be the enabler.  

And talking of efficiencies, companies will be looking for recession-proofing support and advice throughout the next 12 months. That’s where being part of a strong network is important, and trusted trade associations can play their role. We’ve been going for decades and supporting members through challenging times (that’s one of the reasons we’re offering six months free for new members – so everyone can access our support and help). We’re ramping up our webinars, events and advice, and we’re ever ready to give bespoke advice quickly over email. 

There will be workspaces opening in 2023, as there’s still demand, and amongst these I predict we’ll see increasing diversity of types of workspace. There will be something for everyone amongst the new launches, many of which will be situated in cities outside of the capitals, such as Leeds and Glasgow. And inclusivity will play a big part, as spaces need to be planned for the estimated fifth of office workers who are neurodiverse. It’s not as simple as designing more meeting areas, pool tables and coffee stations. As Nook CEO David O’Coimin recently wrote: “What’s ‘cool’ for some might actually be psychologically traumatic for others.”  

David also talks about wellbeing, and it’s a theme that will be more and more important as we continue into 2023. Wellbeing in the office includes space, outlook and, increasingly, greenery. The use of plants is important aesthetically, as a noise absorber and also to promote employees’ minds and moods. Our members Huckletree design ‘destination’ workspaces which make a lot of use of greenery as beautiful focal points, for instance. 

The flexible workspace sector certainly continues to feel one of great opportunity.  The world of work has changed, and will continue to change, but our sector has shown itself to be resiliant and adapatable in challenging times.  It is strongly placed to continue to adapt as needed, and to play an ever larger role in supporting businesses of every type and size over the next 12 months through providing workspace that meets their specific needs, wherever and whenever that might be.

13 January 2023

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