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EMEA REGION EMEA flexes its office muscles

Office & mixed-use development
EMEA markets with low levels of existing flexible workspace saw the greatest growth in flex office operations over H1 2020, according to research by Colliers International.

Colliers’ ‘Flex Forward’ report highlights how such markets as Hamburg, Vienna, Moscow and St Petersburg saw relatively strong flexible workspace take-up levels during H1, accounting for up to 30 pct of the total office take-up. Although there were some notable cancellations of commitments, 162,000 sqm of new flexible workspace opened bringing the flexible share of modern office space to just under 2 pct on average in the region.

The office has been a key focal point of the pandemic as across the world people have suddenly found themselves working in a new environment, usually at home on their kitchen tables or in dedicated home offices. While the flexible workspace sector has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic there is no need for concern around a sector demise. Instead we are seeing occupiers’ real estate practices becoming more modern and occupiers looking to utilise flexible solutions in the industry to tackle short, as well as medium-term challenges. Landlords are also increasingly enquiring about how they can diversify their asset offering into this market, indicating that there will be further growth in the sector over the next year or so.
Tom Sleigh, the head of flexible workspace consultancy at Colliers International in the UK

In the last five years, the supply of flexible workspace in the EMEA region has grown three-fold. The dominance of WeWork and IWG is now being challenged by the growing number of multi-market and multi-site operators and owner-operators. There are more than 1,300 operators providing workspace in more than 3,300 locations across the 42 markets, according to the report.

We’ve noticed two key trends during this period, demonstrating the ability of the sector to react to significant changes in circumstance. Firstly, operators who are able to provide private work environments to their clients have been transacting well, whereas those providing pure co-working space struggled to provide the reassurance of Covid-secure working space for occupiers. Secondly, we have seen a shift in the demand for flexible space away from the city centres to inner and outer city locations, pointing to early stages of decentralisation as cities face density and commuting disruption.
István Tóth, an associate director and data scientist for EMEA Research at Colliers International in the UK

In H1 2020 the demand for flexible workspace in inner city locations grew to 52 pct compared to only 38 pct in 2018/19, while the demand in suburban areas increased to 16 pct, up from 12 pct in previous years.

The economic cycle is currently difficult to predict, therefore aspects such as flexibility and adaptability are becoming the basis of companies' business strategies. For this reason, we can expect that more and more companies will be thinking about a hybrid lease model that combines a traditional lease with flex space. In order to enable our clients to efficiently change their leasing strategy, we have launched the Colliers Mobility Pass virtual platform, which gives users the access to 5,000 coworking locations around the world, including almost 60 in Poland. This solution not only gives flexibility, but also allows costs to be managed according to the current situation of the company.
Renata Hartle, the flex office strategy and technology solutions manager at Colliers International in Poland

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