While a large volume of material explores flexible office space from the perspective of an operator, occupant, or investor, the discussion of the importance of property management in the world of flexibility has received considerably less attention. Now, property management is assuming a critical role in meeting the growing demand from tenants for flexible space.
Importance of property management and flexibility
This need for change is creating myriad challenges, including flex space design and density, the impact of flexibility on construction operations, and the new skill sets required for flex space personnel, many of which can be solved. Using the experience of property managers.
The SBH Group firm has identified the top property management opportunities, challenges, and priorities that homeowners should consider when incorporating flexible space into their buildings, shared among users around the world. And real estate investors have already focused on this type of asset.
Recognize that flexible space is here to stay.
SBH regular surveys of senior global real estate executives consistently find that flexible office space remains an essential component of their long-term real estate strategy. In fact, many of these companies now expect Flex to play a bigger role in their portfolio strategies than before the pandemic, with the flex space now firmly established as the most desired construction service globally.
Identify the appropriate operating model.
Owners are already well aware of the variety of flexible space with operating models at their disposal, including leases with flexible operators; the formation of joint ventures and profit sharing; enter into management agreements; and establish their own platforms.
Evaluate the pros (and cons) of specific management arrangements.
As more owners explore management agreements with specialists to offer a flexible offering, they will need to conduct a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of this particular model.
Engage property managers to alleviate flexible pain points.
While a flexible space can cause a certain level of disruption to other tenants within the same building, especially in terms of the flow of people and elevator use, good property managers will be able to accommodate them with relative ease.
Win the comfort race.
In the last 12 months, all regions have witnessed a sea change in the mindset of how flex spaces operate as providers compete in what has been called a “services arms race.” Popular offerings include technology-enabled concierge services such as food and beverage, conference facilities, dry cleaning, and even pet sitting services.
Take a hospitality-centric approach.
“Hotelization,” characterized by the introduction of a spirit of hospitality service into office space management, is a well-established corporate real estate trend that is now becoming more prominent in the world of flexibility. Everything indicates that the two worlds of corporate real estate and the pace of flexible offices are converging, creating exciting but complex opportunities for homeowners.
Power flexible space with technology.
Much has been written about the specific tools and technologies that can help flex space users work and help them connect, collaborate, and perform to the best of their ability.
A recent addition to the set of must-haves is contactless technology, such as self-opening doors, contactless elevator buttons, and voice-activated vending machines. With the pandemic increasing awareness of everything people touch, especially in the workplace, non-contact environments can provide users with the necessary proof and certainty of health and safety.
Create a differentiated offer.
The competitive world of Flex space means that owners and service providers must differentiate their offering by providing the agility and conveniences that can create value for owners while boosting employee productivity.
SBH Group believes that scheduling flex spaces for the productivity of the entire workforce, rather than the individual, can be a key differentiator. This will mean moving away from offering piecemeal initiatives like free lobby snacks. And promote fitness classes to individuals to provide classes and other programs for the entire workforce in a particular space.
Think ahead and consider sustainability.
As the flexible space industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, homeowners must keep abreast of emerging trends that can affect the way flexibility fits and operates within their properties.
The increasing adoption of hybrid work will make flexible office space an essential component of long-term corporate real estate strategy. As a result, more owners will need to evaluate the various flexible operating models and formats as they prepare to introduce this feature to their portfolios.
When considering flexible space options, homeowners are advised to consult with their property managers to help them connect with the right resources and identify specific opportunities or challenges that may be present in their buildings.