Addressing workplace shifts – how can you reimagine an office with a part-time model? - Boodle Hatfield

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22 Apr 2024

Addressing workplace shifts – how can you reimagine an office with a part-time model?

In the quest for workplace optimisation and efficiency, the concept of part-time offices offers a promising avenue for businesses and landlords alike.

Flexible workspace platform Hubble, for example, has witnessed over 80% of customers staying in part-time office spaces for over six months. This arrangement, whereby a company rents an office space for 1-3 days a week, sometimes leading to another company occupying the space the remaining days, has the potential to reduce rents for occupiers and maximise resource utilisation for landlords.

According to data from Slack, 55% of UK employees plan to make a flexible working request to their employer once the Flexible Working Bill comes into force. With hybrid working here to stay, business owners and managers are reevaluating their working patterns, and even office locations and designs will demand a review. Part time offices are needed now more than ever to provide businesses with a flexible working proposition that improves retention and productivity.

Ensuring an office space contains good quality amenities, suitable arrangements to reduce the risk of disputes between occupiers, and that permission from lenders to implement part-time office spaces is gained, landlords can be safe in the knowledge that part-time setups offer a productive solution to inevitable portfolio vacancy.

Redefining workplace dynamics

Initially favoured by startups and small enterprises seeking cost-effective solutions, part-time offices are now gaining traction among larger corporations, underscoring their versatility and relevance in a dynamic work landscape. From an operator’s perspective, part-time offices are seeing increased demand, with part-time offerings leading to nearly 40% more monthly office viewings than traditional deals.

Part-time offices mark a departure from conventional office occupancy models, allowing companies to occupy spaces for a limited number of days each week. This flexible arrangement caters to the diverse needs of businesses while stimulating growth within the office sector. The fact that a number of part-time office customers were previously fully remote, suggests that part-time offices are presenting net growth for the office market. As demand for part-time offices continues to surge, landlords and property managers are presented with new challenges and opportunities.

Navigating challenges and seizing opportunities

While some landlords and property managers may express reservations about incorporating part-time offices into their portfolios, others recognise the potential benefits, including increased revenue and tenant retention.

Addressing concerns about potential ‘cannibalisation’ of existing portfolios is essential for embracing the part-time office trend. By offering flexible lease agreements and exploring ancillary revenue streams, landlords can optimise underutilised spaces and enhance profitability. Furthermore, most coworking spaces operate at an average of 80-85% vacancy – with part-time offices presenting an opportunity to bridge the vacancy gap with short-term, flexible occupiers.

Key considerations for landlords include ensuring high-end amenities in the space, such as high-speed internet connectivity and ergonomic furnishings. Proactively addressing any potential disputes between occupiers is another key consideration, for example, by ensuring the cleanliness of the space is maintained between occupiers. Another important legal consideration is obtaining consent from any lenders on the building to operate the lease on a part-time basis.

Reshaping the future of work environments

The rise of part-time offices reflects a strategic response to the evolving needs of the modern workforce. Landlords who adapt to this trend stand to benefit from increased revenue and tenant satisfaction, ultimately reshaping the future landscape of flexible work environments.

The emergence of part-time offices represents a significant shift in the office sector, driven by the growing demand for flexibility and adaptability. As businesses continue to embrace hybrid work models, the concept of part-time offices is expected to gain further traction. By embracing this trend, landlords can position themselves for success in a rapidly changing business landscape, fostering a more agile and resilient office sector.

Embracing innovation and flexibility in workplace design

By embracing innovation and flexibility in their coworking strategy, landlords can create dynamic environments that cater to the evolving needs of tenants. From offering customisable lease agreements to providing state-of-the-art amenities and services, there are countless opportunities to create value and drive growth in the sector. In the years to come, the integration of part-time offices is expected to become increasingly prevalent, shaping the future of work environments.

As contemporary work environments continue to evolve and adapt to employee sensibilities, the transformative trend of part-time offices is reshaping the traditional office setting.

This article was first published in React News in April 2024 and was cowritten with Henry Burn, VP at Hubble.