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Coworking Could Save Birmingham Office Market, Cushman Says

Coworking in the old days.

So far coworking and flexible workspace have not had a good pandemic in respect to new leasing deals: Before the coronavirus, crowded shared spaces felt like creative hothouses. Now they feel like a health risk, and UK take-up so far this year by operators has been just 30K SF.

Yet according to Cushman & Wakefield, the source of the take-up figure, flexible workspace could play a central role in the economic recovery (when it comes). Birmingham’s relatively large supply of flexible workspace will be an advantage, the firm said.

Cushman & Wakefield’s new report Coworking 2020: What’s Next on the Flexible Workspace Horizon? argues that coworking space provides a multifaceted, relatively low cost and flexible solution to the safe return to the office in the short to medium term. It also predicts that demand for non-core city locations could increase as occupiers seek alternative locations in commuter towns or city suburbs.

The report identifies Birmingham as one of the most established flexible workspace markets outside of London.

In Birmingham, flexible workspace accounts for 3.9% of total office stock.

The report predicts an increase in the number of landlords entering the sector and delivering their own product, following the lead of the likes of British Land, Landsec, The Crown Estate and Bruntwood. It also anticipates a greater spectrum of products to be delivered under the flexible workspace umbrella, such as 'managed' and 'cat A+' space.

“Whilst the occupation of flexible workspaces has been affected by the pandemic, we anticipate that as the market recovers they will be an attractive option to a number of occupiers who seek certainty and flexibility in terms of pricing and setup costs. Serviced offices will be a significant constituent in the desired occupational mix and form part of a broader long-term space strategy," Cushman & Wakefield Birmingham office partner Scott Rutherford said.