The Rise of the Shared Workspace

flowers on UK themed console tables in open plan office

Start-up businesses have a problem: today’s rent is too high to work from a traditional office set-up. But perhaps you have the solution – would you consider opening up your property as a shared workspace?

Between 2011 and 2018, the amount of flexible office space per square foot increased by 22%. And there is a big increase in demand for shared offices on today’s property market.

In this article, we will walk you through the expectations that businesses have for shared workspaces and offer ideas on how you can create a shared workspace aesthetic that will outstrip your competitors.

What Businesses Want

In order to create and sell a co-working space to prospective tenants, you need to understand their point of view. Businesses in shared workspaces can benefit from skills and knowledge sharing, as well as increasing their client portfolios through recommendations.

Companies such as digital marketing agencies and web developers, and other Tech industry firms are most likely to go into a shared workspace environment. Knowing this, you should tap into their wants and needs by providing fibre speed broadband, as many plug sockets as possible and some creative but comfy furniture. Think of the businesses that you are marketing your space to and tailor the environment to match their needs.

open place office space with plant in corner in tall yellow pot

There are some general truths that apply to any shared workspace that you need to know about. These include the fact that businesses who share workspaces and costs are more likely to prize high-end facilities where they can make the most of networking and learning from one another. The kinds of facilities that companies want the most are high spec kitchens and communal social areas. If you want to attract really high-end businesses, you should consider adding private gym facilities, showers and even an on-site café (think avocado toast, homemade burgers and quinoa salad rather than a greasy spoon).

As variety is an important part of the creative process for many companies, you must consider this during the planning phase; creative businesses will benefit from flexible open plan rooms that encourage uniqueness and interaction. You can express this through dynamic and trendy interiors that speak to the audience you are trying to attract.

open plan office with red walls and sofa with planting areas next to staircase

Making It Work

One aspect of shared workspaces that can cause friction between the occupants working in them is the lack of privacy. Distractions are far more likely to arise in a shared workspace. Creatives can find this beneficial in terms of generating ideas, but there are some times when people need to able to concentrate. Get onboard the latest, growing office design trend of Activity Based Workplace Design (ABW) which is a mix of open, semi-private and private spaces in one office, add funky soundproofed pods, where confidential conversations can take place face to face, or critical thinking and detailed work can happen. Phone booths are also becoming very popular for those important business phone conversations, without sounding like you are in a call centre.

The Aesthetic

Companies looking for a shared workspace want something fresh, different and exciting. The aesthetic is therefore highly important. Décor needs to be instantly attractive with furnishings that are functional and comfortable. The blending of work and home continues, so do include soft furnishing, lamps and large office plants, which have the added benefit of also aiding productivity and creativity. Office plants will also make your workspace stand out from other workspaces, which will seem boring and old fashioned in comparison to your thoughtfully designed office.

open plan office with large green plants in white plant pots

Short Term and Flexibility

One aspect of Co-working spaces that landlords should be aware of is that most businesses are reluctant to sign long-term leases for shared offices. Agility is a top priority for both modern businesses and workers, so shorter contracts which can offer more freedom are more attractive.

Property owners may find this an intimidating prospect, but if you are confident that the space you have created is a positive one, then you should also feel confident in supplying short-term contracts that other businesses will continue to sign.

Including all of the above suggestions – attractive designs, trending colour schemes, incorporating biophilia – you should aim to make the experience as stress-free for your tenants as possible. Having a great ‘Community Manager’ or Building Manager on hand for those unforeseen problems is a great idea. The ability to handle even the most minor issues with efficiency will definitely endear a business to your property and could turn a short term lease into a very profitable relationship.

Shared workspaces are the future, and could well be a secret weapon in our success as a country post-Brexit, as we nurture and encourage entrepreneurial start-ups and tech businesses, especially in big cities like London and Manchester. If you’re looking to create the perfect office space, contact us to find out how our talented florists and plant technicians can augment your property.

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