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The Rise of the Flexible Workspace

Posted September 12, 2016 By Stefanie OConnell

Where people live, where they work and what they want out of the office has been changing over the last decade. Diversity, flexibility and customization are the new value propositions whereas cubicles, privacy and separation were important in the past. Workspace experts like Michelle Bodick of Instant Group envision a future in which spaces can be consumed as a service and thus become more customizable for user productivity.


At this year’s Worktech conference at Convene in New York, Bodick outlined five factors shaping the modern workplace.

1. New Entrants to the Market

New types of office providers are beginning to flood the workspace market giving consumers more options to choose from. As such, nontraditional options like co-working communities, business continuity spaces, and managed short-term workspaces are carving space out from under market leaders like Regus while establishing new workplace norms.


2. Evolution From Niche to Mainstream

The ways in which consumers now look for and talk about workspace has also undergone a major change. Most searches now start online, and search terms that just a few years ago were absent from the vernacular—words like “co-working”—have become commonplace. Providers must continuously grow and expand their services, both physical and digital, in order to stay ahead of the curve. This “arms race” will give rise to new and unusual ways of thinking about how we work.


3. New User Types

Users of modern workspaces are also changing, as self-employment, startups and the portfolio career become a larger part of the jobs landscape. With new client types comes a new set of needs, and companies both large and small must find ways to accommodate a diverse and in some cases disconnected workforce.


4. New Business Landscape

The rise of the knowledge economy and the increasing prominence of the creative has changed expectations in both traditional and modern workplaces. As the line between workstyle and lifestyle blurs, workspace providers must be able to accommodate elements of both.


5. On-Demand Expectations

Similarly, as the on-demand consumer market expands, users are now challenging workspace providers to produce increasingly innovative solutions and customized space. As new players enter the market (see #1) consumers have little cause to settle for anything less than a space exactly fitted to their needs.


The takeaway: As long as flexibility and choice continue to grow as workplace priorities, we can expect to see those values shape the spaces in which we work.


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