Shared and serviced offices are underpinning an emerging trend towards “space as a service”, according to research published in the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

The article ‘Coordinating office space: Digital technologies and the platformization of work’ was written by Lizzie Richardson at the Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt am Main in Germany, and published in the April 2021 issue.

She looked at how digital technologies are allowing office work to be carried out in a more dispersed way, and how this is leading to an increase in shared office spaces where multiple businesses occupy the same premises, sometimes for relatively short periods of time.

This is all part of the notion of ‘platformization’, in which work is reorganised using technologies that support flexible working conditions – both in terms of time and location – and new levels of independence and interdependence among workers.

Extending the concept of serviced offices in the UK

Prof Dr Richardson writes that the ‘space as a service’ trend is an extension of a decades-long market for serviced offices in the UK and other countries, dating back to the 1980s.

“Whilst this by no means implies the extinction of more traditional models of office usage, space as a service aims to generate new forms of revenue from the demands for mobility of workers … and the perceived inefficiency of voluminous and long-term investment in office real estate (whether leased or owned) by larger companies,” she explains.

“From the perspective of the different business occupiers, the model provides a space equipped with all that is necessary for office activity that, equally importantly, enables these activities to take place in front of other workers.”

Shared office space enables communication not only within businesses, but with other occupiers of the same building, enhancing collaboration with like-minded entrepreneurs in the same local area.

Studying serviced offices in London and Manchester

As part of her research, Prof Dr Richardson made “short observations in 15 offices across Manchester, Cambridge and London”. She notes that the London serviced offices market in particular is well serviced and diverse.

Of the more than 660 flexible offices in London, over three quarters are described as small operators, a characteristic also found elsewhere in the country.

“In other cities, dedicated operators with a similar intermediary function also tend to be smaller companies, often with only one space,” her article observes.

Meeting demand for serviced offices in London, Manchester and Telford

At the Serviced Office Company, we respond to demand where we see it at its highest, and in addition to our serviced offices in London and Manchester, we are currently working hard on our biggest-ever development of serviced offices in Telford, at St James’ House on Central Park.

This adds to our serviced offices in London at Davenport House on Pepper Street, and our London Business Centre at Millharbour Court, both conveniently located on the Isle of Dogs.

Meanwhile in the north-west, our serviced offices in Manchester include Exchange Quay and just a few minutes’ walk away, our serviced offices in Salford Quays on neighbouring Clipper Quay – two different postcode districts separated by a matter of metres.

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