Serviced offices drive city centre flexibility

The growth of city centre serviced offices in the early years of the 21st century has increased the diversity and flexibility of property in central business districts and may have helped to hold back the death of the high street. According to a report by the University of Glasgow, published on the Social Science Research Network, UK town and city centres are going through a period of unprecedented change, which has been accelerated further by the pandemic. Rising vacancy levels and disused premises are one of the biggest challenges to arise from this – and changes to property use driven by both commercial tenants and their landlords are part of how city centres naturally adapt over time.

Increasing diversity in city centre office space

The report explains that changing the use of premises is not the only way to increase diversity in city centre building stocks. “Diversity within centres is not just about rebalancing the retail-service mix to changes in consumer preferences, it is also about introducing alternative uses,” the researchers write. “Variety can exist in property ownership, building formats and unit sizes, all of which are shaped by local factors such as vacancy rates, pedestrian accessibility, and the form and quality of the physical built environment.” Serviced offices in city centres are a prime example of this, taking large existing or new-build commercial premises in convenient locations and making them accessible and more affordable to tenants of all sizes on more flexible terms.

Reducing retail in commercial centres

Across the five cities studied, the researchers found a trend away from so-called ‘comparison shops’, traditional retail premises that stock products from multiple manufacturers or suppliers. In 2017, nearly a third of properties included in the study were comparison shops. Yet in Glasgow and Edinburgh, this was already second to offices as the primary use of city centre premises. Since that time – perhaps driven by the rapid rise of home delivery during the pandemic lockdown periods – there has been a further shift away from physical retail to online shopping, leading to a fall in comparison shops on the high street.

Breaking down office accommodation

Dividing large offices into smaller units typical of those seen in serviced offices is another trend identified in the study. The researchers explain: “The number of offices and storage facilities is the second-highest land use when averaged across the five centres. As above, it is the highest in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which have seen a greater rise in serviced office space.” “Breaking this down, the subdivision of office accommodation – previous single occupant or vacant – into smaller, more flexible units, is a trend evident in all five study areas. The establishment of the serviced office sector has driven this change.”

Your place in the city

Serviced Office Company can help you tap into this trend, with high-quality city centre serviced offices in London, Manchester and newly opened serviced offices in Telford offering the space you need on flexible terms. This puts your brand at the heart of your local business district, while giving you and your workers convenient access to local retail amenities for lunch breaks and coffee shop meetings. With our own meeting rooms for hire on-site, kitchen facilities and relaxing breakout rooms, this gives you plenty of options to get away from your desk, whether it’s for an hour or just a few minutes at a time.

The Third Place: Remote workers seek local co-working spaces in post-lockdown era

Local co-working spaces are offering a ‘third place’ for remote workers to be located in the post-pandemic era, according to research published by the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. Italy was one of the first places to experience a substantial COVID-19 outbreak, closely followed by the UK as the pandemic spread through Europe. Since lockdown conditions have eased, research has been carried out into designing behaviours for well-being spaces, as part of the FrancoAngeli Design International Series which began in 2017. In a recent update, the researchers found that some individuals who are able to work remotely are not returning to the office, but also are not working from home, but are instead seeking a ‘third place’ in the form of local co-working spaces.

What drives demand for co-working spaces?

As lockdowns ended and more workers had the possibility to go back to the office, with the protection of vaccines in place, many found they would prefer to continue to work remotely. However, this does not necessarily mean working within the distractions of the home environment either. The researchers explain: “A significant number of workers prefer to look for the already mentioned ‘third place’ which is increasingly characterised by urban proximity to the place of residence, and that is offering advantages such as the provision of shared facilities and services, removal from domestic distractions, and the implementation of social relationships.” Some companies have embraced this by decentralising their office workforce; others are increasing their use of teleworking even further after seeing an increase in productivity; and some, the report notes, would prefer a return to pre-pandemic working practices.

How hotdesking helps

Serviced Office Company offer hotdesking and co-working facilities based at our serviced offices in London, Manchester, MediaCity and Telford, and giving you access to the same high standard of facilities and meeting rooms for hire on-site. This can help if you work in any one of a number of different ways:

  • Self-employed individuals seeking occasional professional surroundings
  • Contract workers with temporary or varying demand for desk space
  • Decentralised companies seeking local co-working space for employees

Hotdesking offers excellent flexibility and scalability. Combined with our virtual office service, you can have a consistent and professional set of contact details, and we will handle any incoming correspondence on your behalf. As your business grows, you might decide to move into our serviced offices to give you dedicated 24/7 space of your own, with the option to expand further as you reach greater and greater success.

Find out more

If you are still adjusting to your new preferred way of working in the post-pandemic era, or you just want to know more about hotdesking and co-working in Telford, Manchester, Salford Quays or London, contact the Serviced Office Company today. We are always delighted to discuss our growing network of business premises across the UK, including our recently completed refurbishment of over 50,000 square feet of prime office space in Telford across four floors of St James’ House in Central Park. Ask us anything – we’re here to help, and our facilities are designed to offer the flexibility you need as we all adjust to the ‘new normal’ of the coming years.

Serviced offices The Goldilocks option for flexible working

As businesses around the world move into a new era of flexible working, serviced offices offer a best-of-both solution for convenient access to a formal workplace, without the restrictions of traditional leased offices. This ‘Goldilocks’ nature of serviced offices and coworking spaces is one of the benefits listed in an article in the Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, written by a multinational team from universities in Italy, South Africa, Germany and Spain. In the article, they write that there are four differentiating factors between working at home, traditional leased offices, and coworking spaces including serviced offices:

  1. Accessibility (i.e. opening hours)
  2. Flexibility (including scalability)
  3. Diversity of Organisations
  4. Diversity of Workforce

Serviced offices and coworking spaces score well as a middle-ground option, avoiding some of the pitfalls that can arise from a workforce based in home offices, or from leasing traditional commercial workspace.

Accessibility and Flexibility

The article notes that while traditional premises may be accessed during working hours, employees working from home can often choose their hours at any time of day or night. Coworking spaces cover both ends of this spectrum, with some offering around-the-clock access while others are restricted to traditional working hours. The authors write: “Coworking places are timewise-accessible by choice of the worker. This offers more flexibility than traditional offices.” Greater flexibility is also seen in other ways, for example by allowing businesses to adjust the amount of space they occupy in serviced offices in order to respond to the need to scale up – or down – as time goes by.

Supporting Diversity

Coworking spaces are again praised when it comes to supporting greater diversity of organisations and individuals alike. In terms of working alongside other individuals, the home office is self-evidently the most restricted, whereas traditional leased offices typically only expose employees to their own colleagues. By comparison, serviced offices may have more communal areas and multiple businesses on the same premises, increasing the opportunities for networking and collaboration. And the authors note the high cost of traditional leased offices in city centre locations, which may price out new start-ups and small businesses compared with more flexible serviced offices.

Get the Best of Both

Serviced Office Company are proud of our growing number of locations providing high-quality serviced offices in London, Manchester and Telford, including desirable physical premises in Canary Wharf and MediaCity. Tenants benefit from 24-hour access – with 24-hour security – as well as collaborative breakout spaces, kitchen areas for informal discussions, and meeting rooms for hire on-site for more formal and private conversations. We welcome new start-ups and where possible, will help you to scale up to larger offices within our premises as your business grows in the future, starting from our coworking and hot desk spaces if that’s what you need to get growing. To find out more, fill in the enquiry form for the location you’re interested in, or contact us if you’d like to arrange a tour in person and see if our serviced offices in Telford, Manchester or London are right for you.

Hotdesking vs. designated desks What do workers want?

The flexible working revolution has brought with it a whole spectrum of workspaces including hotdesking, coworking spaces, serviced offices and leased offices where employees do not have a fixed workstation. But what do employees themselves want? A recent study by the Scottish Social Services Council, published by the University of Dundee, surveyed the feelings of newly qualified social workers in different workplace environments. The researchers found that half of their respondents were satisfied with their working environment, although some felt frustrated if there was not enough desk space for them to be able to find a place when they needed one. In one case, a respondent explained that they “often can’t get a desk in my own office where all my files are kept and have to go to another building… overall it just feels unsettling, like you are always on the move”. The findings highlight the importance of sufficient capacity, whether working in a coworking space which offers hot desk access, or occupying serviced offices or traditional leased offices and trying to optimise the number of workstations for a flexible workforce.

Positive working environments

The option of a designated desk was one of the two most significant factors cited by the researchers in positive survey responses, along with “a modern and fresh environment”.Other features of positive working environments included:

  • Adequate space, light, heat and technology
  • Access to quiet and confidential areas
  • Places to take a break and/or eat
  • Access to showers and hygiene facilities
  • Access to on-site bicycle storage

Serviced Office Company’s serviced offices in Manchester, Telford and London provide these benefits across the board, with premises full of natural light and views across waterside and park locations. Our premises also offer the option to hire meeting rooms on-site, ideal for confidential meetings with clients, job applicants, stakeholders or colleagues. Showers and washrooms, bike storage, kitchen areas and comfortable breakout rooms all help to make sure employees have everything they need for a positive experience from their workplace. With scalable serviced offices and the option to hot desk in communal spaces too, we cater for all sizes of organisation, from individual entrepreneurs to growing SMEs looking for professional office space of their own.

Serviced offices vs. hotdesking

You may still be considering the pro’s and con’s of serviced offices vs. hotdesking, but the two can work well alongside each other. Just some examples of this include:

  • A sole trader chooses to hot desk in our communal areas, before moving into serviced offices in MediaCity as business gets off the ground.
  • A business based mostly around remote working uses our premises to hot desk when needed, with meeting rooms to hire for confidential client conversations.
  • An SME leases serviced offices in London and scales up to provide more hot desk capacity for a growing workforce.

We welcome enquiries relating to flexible working, especially as we all progress through the post-pandemic period together – to find out more or to discuss what your business needs to grow in the years ahead, please contact us today to talk to our team.