Adapt… or die

OBI | 18 October 2016

As the famous Charles Darwin saying goes…it is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change. Darwin’s saying has stood the test of time. Those unwilling to innovate may not be so fortunate.

Never-ending adaptation

In a world that is constantly evolving, being alert to change is vital. One of the issues that has acted as a disruptor in commercial property is flexible working space, which has risen predominantly – but not exclusively – through use by digital and tech start-ups.

Flexible spaces offer a mix of designed private offices and co-working spaces with a view to creating transparency and collaboration amongst all occupiers within a building. Start-up businesses see this as a lucrative proposition as it encourages networking, idea generation and the exchanges of services amongst businesses…ideal for growth! The number of co-working spaces around the world has grown by 700% since 2011.

An office doesn’t have to be “just a building” but can be brought to life to connect with those who use it. A great example is the latest marketing brochure developed for Bruntwood’s Neo project in Manchester. The key phrases leap out: collaboration, energy, momentum.

Another initiative that can be mentioned in the same breath as NEO is the XYZ building in Spinningfields. XYZ are creating their own ecosystem aimed at bringing together people of diverse creative, TMT and professional communities together under one roof in Manchester’s professional heartland.

Digital focus from established businesses

Leading businesses are zeroing in on digital strategy to enhance their proposition and reach – so it makes sense that many of them are putting the creative arms of their business into creative environments.

Take HSBC’s Hong Kong office, which was seen as a key factor to attracting and retaining the best talent in the creative field. HSBC broke the perception that flexible working space is just for start-ups and proved that an established business can gain significant value.

Strong HR and great levels of employee wellbeing have moved to the top of CEO wish lists, driving more “people-based” decisions. Improving the workplace is an obvious focal point.

Work-life balance

Around the world there are some great space innovations, including the likes of Google, Facebook and closer to home, The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has come into play a lot of late, with companies adapting to make a seamless transition to a more playful

Not everybody has the spending power of Google, but by using an inspiring co-working space businesses can pick up on a communal energy and gain the ability to interact with others. The success of collaboration can be seen with the success of co-working operator Headspace as they expand beyond London, where they operate in Farringdon and Marylebone. In Manchester, Headspace have taken 15,000 sq ft at 2 Mount Street, part of The Albert Estate.

Like Civic Hall, a co-working space in a Manhattan building dating back to 1894, this is modern working in a heritage setting. What an opportunity for UK regional cities, with their wealth of glorious older buildings packed with character.

There is a huge demand for flexible working space in Manchester, with entrepreneurs and early stage businesses seeking not just less space than traditional office buildings offer, but more flexible lease terms too.

Manchester as a famously entrepreneurial city appears perfect for this type of initiative and in a time of economic uncertainty, flexible working space carries even more prominence.

The message for landlords and businesses is the same – the winners will be those who are willing to adapt.

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