Traditional office leases just don’t cut it anymore. Getting locked in a long-term contract doesn’t allow your business to grow, doesn’t account for the mobile nature of the modern workforce, and makes it difficult to navigate through today’s ever-changing economic and technological shifts.
“Work is not what it used to be and one-to-one desks don’t make sense for many employers,” said Nick LiVigne, vice president of product at Convene. “It’s hard to get locked into a lease if you don’t know what your business—and your industry—is going to look like in two years.”
Companies can no longer make workspace decisions based on headcount, because contract work has made headcount so variable. In fact, contract workers hold one in five American jobs—and that number could rise to 50% by 2028, according to a recent NPR/Marist poll.
It all adds up to an ecosystem ripe for change. Many businesses are now considering flexible office space as an alternative. Flexible offices don’t lock tenant companies into long leases and allow companies to add more physical space as time goes by.
“Flexible office” has become a buzzy term, but not all flexible office providers are created equal. How can companies ensure that the flexible office they choose can actually accommodate their company as it grows? What sets a good provider apart from the rest?
To help answer those questions, we put together this flexible office checklist to help ensure that your company will have a happy home for years—even if your headcount changes drastically during that time span.
Make sure your company can grow into common space. The easiest and most cost-effective way to expand in a flex office is to overflow into the common areas. But if the common space is jam-packed with people, beware. If booking a conference room is tougher than getting into the hottest nightclub in town, beware. If it’s incredibly noisy and distracting, beware. Check out the density metrics and take a walk through to ensure the common space isn’t overcrowded or chaotic.
Find modular spaces. Leading flexible office providers offer physical spaces that can easily be joined together. Remove a wall between two small offices to make one bigger office. Remove another wall to make the space even larger. Find flex office providers that can move people (and walls) around to make the puzzle pieces fit. In environments that are much more fixed (say brick walls) expansion will either not be an option or be a very expensive proposition — and you’ll likely be forced to pick up the tab.
Pick a space that allows for culture growth. Flexible offices might conjure up images of coworking spaces (and the tech bro culture that comes with them.) But the best flexible work providers offer clean, sophisticated, minimal decor that allows your brand’s unique culture to shine through.
Flexible membership options are key. Just because they offer flexible offices doesn’t mean they offer truly flexible membership terms. Find a provider that’ll let you buy any combination of office space, dedicated desks in common areas, and switch them around as needed.
Find a provider that lets you flex into other locations. If one flexible office space is full, can some team members work in the office across town? Having that flexibility furthers the opportunity for your team to work anywhere, reduces the demand for dedicated space, and most importantly allows your team to grow without finding new office space.
Be honest with yourself about the space you need. People work from home. People travel for work. People work from the cafeteria or the sofa. People stay home sick. In fact, office workers sit at their desks for only 40% of the working day. That means you shouldn’t overcompensate. Make sure you’re buying desks for people who will actually use them day after day and encourage your people to share. It’s far more cost-effective than expanding when it’s really not necessary.