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It's Time To Flex, Knight Frank Tells Manchester Landlords

Circle Square, Manchester, under construction today

The demand for flexible workspace is set to accelerate as more than two thirds of global corporates plan to increase their use of flexible coworking and collaborative space, and landlords have got to adapt.

Knight Frank’s (Y)OUR SPACE report surveyed senior executives at 120 global companies which collectively employ in excess of 3.5 million people worldwide.

It revealed that 69% of global corporates plan to increase utilisation of coworking and flexible workspace over the next three years; 44% believe flexible workspace will comprise up to a fifth of all corporate workspace; and 75% are aiming to boost employee happiness and productivity through utilisation of business space.

Yet today traditional leasing still dominates. Two thirds of companies surveyed by Knight Frank reported that coworking, serviced and flexible office space comprise 5% or less of their current office space. A small minority, less than 7%, said that flexible workspace exceeds a fifth of their total workspace.

“While coworking and serviced office operators have grown rapidly over the past five years, driven largely by startups and the freelance economy, this is only the tip of the iceberg with latent demand from global companies set to emerge over the next three years," Knight Frank Global Head of Occupier Research Lee Elliott said.

In Manchester these trends will mean increased pressure to flex office space into incubator and educational space.

“The demand for flexibility is the single biggest threat — and opportunity — to owners of office space. In Manchester developers like Bruntwood are already responding, creating buildings at its Circle Square scheme that will not only provide the environment to attract and retain talent but that can accommodate companies through all stages of their growth from an initial hot desk to a 120 person office," Knight Frank Head of Manchester David Porter said.

“Looking to lessons from Knight Frank colleagues in America, we believe we will see increasing links between business and education as companies seek to influence the skills of the available workforce.”