The Rise Of Flex Office Is Not Just Because Of Tech
Demand for flexible work environments is not just coming from tech employees, but the general workforce trends related to frustratingly long commute times, growth of the millennial workforce and fast-growing companies, according to a report by LiquidSpace.
Long commute times have been a significant factor in driving employees to find alternative work environments, LiquidSpace reports. In the San Francisco Bay Area, traffic increased between 43% and 81% on the region’s bridges within the last five years. Average commute times for residents is about 4.6 hours/week and is the fourth-longest in the nation, following behind New York at 6.2 hours, Chicago at 5.3 hours and Philadelphia at five hours.
Long commutes can negatively impact work performance and health, LiquidSpace reports. Commuters have a higher risk of back and neck pain, obesity and other stress-related diseases. Workers with short commutes stay at a company 20% longer than their peers with long commutes.
Employees would much rather have the option to work remotely. Surveys have shown 80% to 90% of employees would like the option to work remotely at least some of the time. These options can include working from home, a café or a remote office.
Millennials make up more than 53% of the workforce, and the generation’s preference for open floor plans, communal soft seating and collaborative spaces have had dramatic impacts on how offices are designed. Employers also have noticed increased productivity and efficiencies by offering open, flexible work options.
Tech remains among the biggest influences on office trends especially now that tech jobs have grown twice as fast as other office-oriented professions. Companies less than five years old make up a majority of new job creation and also require more flexibility since they could quickly outgrow their spaces as staff increases. Tech is taking up more total square footage through added amenities, but the space per employee has declined as traditional workspaces become less of a need.
The flex office trend has led to a plethora of third-party companies that work closely with landlords to provide a long-term tenant, but also a potential amenity for the building. Co-working companies have been spreading across the country and throughout the world. Breather has been partnering with landlords to provide on-demand meeting spaces and has been expanding into new cities throughout the country and internationally.
LiquidSpace has connected 64,000 teams to 2,800 flexible office locations throughout 730 cities. Offices can be rented for an hour and up to three years. It recently launched its altSpace program, which provides tailored tenant build-outs in 60 days.
Real estate companies have been working toward creating more flexible options. The Irvine Co. in Southern California incorporates flexible spaces and transactions to get younger companies into its projects. The Swig Co., along with The Port Workspaces, redeveloped a former department store in Oakland and turned it into a co-working campus that helped bring new young tech companies into Oakland’s Uptown. The success of this project led Swig to develop an adjacent office tower.