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Flex Space Is Driving Workplace Innovation. Do Building Owners Have The Right Tools To Manage It?


When people think about the future of office space, one word increasingly comes to mind: flexibility. As employees begin to return to the office after more than a year of working from home, few are ready to go back to the traditional setup of sitting at the same desk from 9 to 5. Instead, they want the ability to work from multiple locations with ease. This is where flex space comes in.  

In December, CBRE surveyed major companies in the U.S. and internationally and discovered that 86% of respondents were planning to implement flex spaces into their post-pandemic real estate strategies, while 82% said they would be more likely to choose a future office space that had flex space offerings. A recent study conducted by independent market research firm Verdantix, however, found that only 13% of tenants felt as though their landlords are prepared to meet their flex space needs. 

Are building owners planning on offering flex space? If so, how do they plan to manage the space to make sure it meets tenants’ needs and expectations? Workplace experience platform Lane conducted a survey to find out the answers to these questions and more. Lane co-founder and CEO Clint Robinson spoke to Bisnow about the results. 

“Our results show that the flex space market is red-hot,” Robinson said. “We found that 90% of survey respondents said they either already had flex space up and running or were planning to implement it at some point, and that has corresponded with the rise in demand we’ve seen for our platform.” 

Robinson said that the word “flex” has changed its meaning in terms of office space. While it used to just mean any type of coworking space, now it can refer to renting out conference rooms by the hour or renting out wellness spaces like gyms and patios. And with so many offerings, building owners will need an easy way to manage those experiences. 

The Lane survey found that 91% of respondents said it was either extremely important or somewhat important for them to have technology that could manage both flex spaces and their traditionally leased commercial real estate spaces.

Robinson said the correct technology is crucial because tenants are expecting a seamless experience — they want to be able to book space, pay their invoice, get in the door and interact with everything the space has to offer, from catering to gym access — with ease. Additionally, building managers need a platform that will let them quickly respond to any maintenance requests and manage all their bookable spaces. All of this can be accomplished through the Lane platform. 

“This goes beyond the companies that book these spaces and the individual employees who use them,” Robinson said. “Companies want to empower their employees to be able to book a conference room in LA, Baltimore or Boston with the touch of a button. It’s part of the growing democratization of services within the office environment.” 

Robinson said he believes that the future of work is to turn the office into a true destination space, not just somewhere that employees go to work each day. This is especially true as companies search for ways to entice people to come back to the office after spending so much time at home. He said that offering new amenities and flex space could be a great way to accomplish this goal, but only if people are equipped with the right tools to access it. 

“It's great that you're turning on flex space and physical amenities and new programming, but if people don't know how to access it and it's not seamless, people just won’t use it,” Robinson said.

He said what he has discovered is that, before his clients installed the Lane system, many of their tenants did not even know about the amenities they had access to. He gave one example of a building where there was a free gym for tenants, but only 2% knew about it, and even fewer used it. Once the Lane system was installed, usage went up by 20 to 30 times. 

“Owners need to ask themselves: Do I have the right platform in place that allows me to tie in all these different things?” Robinson said. “A lot of our customers have websites up, but it doesn’t cover the whole ecosystem of their workspace, and that’s what’s unique about us. We work with the office building, we work with flex, we work directly with companies, and we work with the third-party amenity and service providers.” 

He said that by working with all these different parties, Lane has been able to create an app that allows tenants to book spaces, open doors and access amenities in their traditional office and flex spaces through a single platform. 

Lane's platform is already being used to power flexible workspace offerings from prominent companies, including commercial real estate developer Tishman Speyer. The company is using Lane technology to run its Studio spaces, which span from Rockefeller Center in NYC to Beverly Hills and Rio de Janeiro. Through the app, Studio users can book rooms and desks, make purchases, access a variety of resources and more. 

Looking toward the future, the majority of Lane survey respondents said that flexible workspaces are driving workplace innovation and that tenant retention and acquisition are the most important things they consider when choosing a workplace management app. Robinson said he agrees that retaining and acquiring tenants should be a top focus for building owners, and that’s why he has created a platform that helps them do just that. 

“If you can provide a seamless experience to your tenants’ employees and give them access to all these services and amenities and programming that you're creating and make flex space easy to access, then they’re going to love the space,” he said. “They're never going to want to leave.” 

This feature was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Lane. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content. 

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