The US labor market continues to grow more competitive, with the national average for unemployment hovering around 4.5%. The competition is even tighter in many of the most popular cities for new companies like San Francisco (3.5%), Salt Lake City (3.2%), and Boulder (2.7%). The scramble to fill IT employee vacancies is a difficult one, with a recent estimate of the backlog of unfilled IT positions at 545,000. In this battle to attract and retain the best employees, flexible office solutions can be a potent weapon. Companies have started to realize the value of flexible office solutions in this fight for top talent.
The same rapid job growth in these “super cities” is leading to worsening traffic and longer commute times. In the San Francisco Bay area, for example, traffic has increased between 43-81% on the region’s cross-bay bridges. And that’s just in the last 5 years. San Francisco’s average commuting time (4.5 hours per week) now ranks 4th in the nation, trailing Chicago (5.3 hours), and New York (6.2 hours).
“… commuting can negatively impact both work performance and health.”
“An ideal model might balance several days a week of remote working, from a coworking location, and a few days in the central office.”
Many of the older and more unique buildings that owners have struggled to reposition as traditional office space can, with a little creativity, position themselves as flexible office spaces. The Swig Company partnered with The Port Workspaces, an Oakland based coworking operator, to redevelop a former department store space in Oakland. They turned unused space into a coworking campus and brought a host of new young tech tenants to Oakland’s revitalized Uptown district. The success of the project and the life it brought to the neighborhood also helped to drive additional interest in Swig’s adjacent office tower.
The growing list of owners looking for ways to make portions of their inventory available on more flexible terms was a driving factor behind the launch of our altSpace program. (see altSpace sidebar for more details) In collaboration with BVN design and furniture partners Allsteel and Tidal Living, the altSpace program uses a mix of pre curated designs and modular furnishing kits to deliver spaces that are flexible, beautiful, cost efficient. LiquidSpace can deliver an altSpace in just 60 days while vastly reducing the potential tenant improvement costs apparent in traditional deals.
Getting office space is often a watershed moment in the launching of a new company. Often that first office is in a shared environment like a coworking space or executive office center. The initial financial and legal commitment to rent these spaces is lower than in a traditional space, with many spaces available, in sizes as small as a single desk. Companies can rent spaces in blocks of hours, days, weeks, months or years. The ability to quickly add additional desks in the space makes this solution a great one for the early days of dynamic growth. Shared work environment also have advantages that go beyond simply the financial and structural elements. Companies also gain access to the type of amenities found in larger offices with shared front desk staff, conference rooms, and kitchens. There is also something said for being a part of a larger office social environment. Interacting with others can help a small company avoid cabin fever, and enables employees to draft off the energy of similar teams and individuals in the space.
As a company grows and crosses the 10 person threshold, the benefits of flexible still hold a ton of appeal. Team this size often start seeking more private spaces in the flexible realm. A combination of factors often drive this decision, including a need for confidentiality, a desire to build a distinct team culture, and the underlying social factors of having a large team in a shared environment. In short, once a team grows larger they may feel uncomfortable as the natural increase in conversations and meetings of a larger team, can be disruptive to the other teams working in the space.
Private spaces in the flexible world come in a variety of forms. Many of the larger executive office centers and coworking spaces include private offices or separate office suites. Private companies also provide significant inventory for mid size teams by sharing extra suites, unused floors, or whole offices that they no longer occupy. Lastly landlords are also increasingly jumping into the flexible ecosystem by providing part of their buildings or portfolio inventory on flexible terms.
At some point in their growth cycle, a company may lease space on a more traditional 5 or 10 year basis. If the company is growing quickly, completing these longer term deals creates a bit of a catch 22. Either the company rents space to suit their needs now, and then quickly finds themselves overcrowded, or back in the market looking for new space, or they lease more space than they need now to give themselves space to grow into. Using the flexible LiquidSpace marketplace, this company can lease a larger space and then share back the additional space on a flexible basis as a way to monetize this additional space until they need it. With options to rent spaces in blocks as small as a single desk all the way up to whole floors. The spaces can be reclaimed with a typical 60 day notice, so the company can better match their occupied space with their current demands and generate additional cash flow along the way.
Once the company has reached a scale when it starts to build teams in other locations, whether a sales, engineering or operations team in another city, flexible solutions provide a quick and easy way to get into a satellite office and house a team wherever that need arises. Companies can deploy flexible solutions rapidly, without all the complexity and work involved in a traditional lease process.
Companies at every stage of their lifecycle use flexible spaces to give their employees options to work where they can be most productive and happy. Rather than ask employees to waste time commuting to a central office each day, companies are creating mobility programs using tools like the LiquidSpace Mobility Manager to allow their employees to work at other locations near where they live. Similarly with workforces that are on the road, or spread across the country companies are giving access to flexible spaces as an alternative to asking their employees to work from home, hotel rooms, or coffee shops. The benefits to employee productivity, retention, and even health from these options is noteworthy.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Director of Product Marketing | San Francisco, CA
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