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Office Space Was Flexible — Now It’s Hyperflexible

The Wanamaker Building in Center City, Philadelphia

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, some foretold the end of the office. Businesses quickly found they could adapt to their workforce operating from home, while employees enjoyed swapping a commute for more time in the comfort of their own homes.

However, for many people, that work-from-home sentiment is history. A global study by Barco ClickShare found that 85% of employees want to return to the office at least part time once Covid restrictions are lifted. They miss social interactions, face-to-face meetings and the change of scene that comes with visiting the office. 

Despite this fact, businesses remain uncertain about how much space they will need and for how long. As a result, more businesses are opting for flexible space to cope with both employees' new desire for a hybrid home-office setup and future Covid restrictions.  

“We’re very excited about what is happening in our industry,” said Dan Zakai, CEO and co-founder of flexible office provider Mindspace. “We have exposure to the market in seven countries and we see the demand for flexibility has increased significantly as we are leaving Covid. Flexibility is a key value proposition in today’s environment.”

The New Users Of Flexible Space

Mindspace has been operating high-end flexible workspaces in major cities across the globe for eight years. While the company has been steadily growing, Zakai believes there are two main reasons that flexible spaces are already proving to be in high demand post-pandemic.

The first is demand from occupiers that would previously have opted for a traditional lease. While the Barco ClickShare research highlighted that employees are keen to return to the office, it also determined that most people are seeking a hybrid environment, the ability to mix home working with office working. This can make it difficult for companies to determine what size office — or lease length — is right for them.

“Today, corporates are reluctant to take on long-term commitments, while people are eager to get back to the office in one form or another,” he said. “We’re seeing companies coming back post-Covid, but also new user profiles — businesses that used to think more about the long term and now, with the uncertainty of the work environment in a post-Covid world, have an appetite for flexibility.”

The second factor fueling the flexible sector’s growth is that businesses recognize the benefits that serviced spaces can bring, Zakai said. According to research from McKinsey, 80% of people say they enjoyed working from home during the pandemic. For offices to compete with the comforts of home, companies will need to stock them with amenities and experiences people can’t find in their living room. 

“More attention is now being paid to the employee experience,” Zakai said. “To get people back in, businesses need to create the right environment. Covid is accelerating the trend for a high-end experience right now because while in the past businesses could have avoided having a good working environment, now there’s an awareness that employee well-being is much more important. Our expertise lies in providing something premium.” 

Zakai said Mindspace has brought a hospitality approach into the office world, an approach that is picking up as companies begin to understand it. The company prides itself on offering a service akin to that offered by a concierge in a hotel, as well as high-end design and events that create a community. 


Growth In Philadelphia

Fueled by the booming interest in flexible space that Mindspace is seeing across recovering markets, this year the company opened its new site in Philadelphia, along with a new space in Tel Aviv and an expansion in Berlin. Its new space in Philadelphia, located in the striking historic Wanamaker Building, delivers a high-end product to the center of the city that did not exist previously, according to Zakai.

“We’re very optimistic about the location because we know it’s the right market and an incredible product, a beautiful space, and it’s getting a lot of attention from potential tenants,” he said. “Since this is a cooperation with the landlord, an affiliate of Rubenstein Partners, we have created a tenants’ lounge and meaningful events space to service not just Mindspace tenants but other building tenants. We’re elevating the whole building, which was very important for the landlord.”

As with Mindspace’s other locations, the Wanamaker site is geared up to accommodate businesses of all sizes. In April, the company launched new membership models to allow businesses to adapt to their employees’ desire for hybrid working.  

“We were flexible, now we’re hyperflexible,” Zakai said. “We’ve created new solutions for members, to enable them to book space hourly or daily in addition to monthly or yearly. We’ve created overflow spaces because companies might not know how many employees they might have come in each day.”

Zakai predicted that demand for flexible space will continue to grow as businesses understand how their employees are most productive. Mindspace is actively speaking to landlords around the world to provide its platform in their buildings. As businesses work to determine the right workspace formula to meet their employees’ needs, Zakai is confident that Mindspace will be there to meet demand.

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

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