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Space as a Service - The Future of the Workspace

  • United Kingdom
  • Corporate
  • Real estate development and regeneration
  • Real estate finance
  • Real estate investment

29-01-2019

By 2030, according to Forbes, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Digitally wired since their childhoods, millennials favour work-life integration rather than work-life balance reflecting the way today’s boundaries between professional and personal life are constantly blurred.

This shift has fuelled the importance of developing innovative and dynamic workspaces, already welcomed by many corporate occupiers, landlords and developers. The likes of Facebook, Google and LinkedIn and the emergence of office space disrupters such as WeWork and The Office Group have been setting the pace. The workspace has already become a key component in attracting and retaining talent.

Against this backdrop, how is Cardiff doing when it comes to providing occupiers with commercial space? According to Knight Frank, between 2018-2020, Cardiff will see an office development pipeline of 733,000 sq ft: 543,000 sq ft more than its close neighbour Bristol. This is good news as a lack of supply in both Grade A & B stock has held back leasing volumes in 2018. Notwithstanding Brexit bleakness, figures due to be released this week show increases in company formations in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and, of course, London. With “scale-ups” arguably more valuable to the economy than “start-ups”, there is clearly still a buoyant positivity around. In order for Cardiff to become an even more progressive city and a serious option for a wide cross section of corporate occupiers, it must embrace these trends and ensure they infiltrate commodity based workspaces.

Our clients tells us they see five fundamental trends that are shaping the future of the workspace:

Coworking to coliving - the rise of coliving spaces will continue. These spaces offer a fresh take on communal living and working targeted specifically at millennials and the post millennial “Linkster” generation. Pure House and Common have become the leaders in this sector. This is living for the digital nomad: if our workplaces ignore these trends, they risk archaism.

Wellbeing - creating a happy and fulfilled workplace not only facilitates employee wellness but also productivity levels.

Flexibility - with the rise of coworking, individuals are seeking flexibility and options on how they work.

PropTech - AI, virtual reality and flexible working technological advances are allowing individuals to work from anywhere.

Warm homely office design - future office designs will see an increase of elements normally associated with the home. Breakout areas, sofas and kitchens are fast becoming the norm for office space interior and furnishings.

Can we see Cardiff becoming a provider of innovative and dynamic workspaces alongside the giants that are London, Birmingham and Manchester? The Central Square development has already developed mixed use spaces and in so doing attracted long term commitments from the BBC, HMRC and Cardiff University. But to where from here? A brave endorsement of these evolving workspace trends may yet make Cardiff a serious corporate hub contender.