Posted by Rob Prescott

Posted 11 November, 2019 OBI BLOG

It might not be making many headlines, but the appetite among businesses for co-working and managed workspaces has shown no signs of slowing in Leeds and other key regional cities through 2019.

That shouldn’t come as a great surprise. All the reasons that managed workspace became such a key part of the London market over the last few years – and flexible workspace accounted for 2.5 million sq ft let in the capital in 2017 alone – are as true today as they were then, and the market continues to rise.

Those attributes include: it’s easy to understand, it’s quick to get into and out of, there’s a bit of choice in location and style. Looking a bit deeper, no longer is there any kind of stigma in being located somewhere that’s not a shiny, high-rent, long-lease corporate HQ with all the trappings that suggests. Managed spaces aren’t just places that firms are looking to work up from these days, instead people want to make them a part of their story and identity.

Enormous cachet comes to operators like WeWork, Spaces (IWG), through step-out operations, where major corporates locate a particular team or department at their site. Lloyds, KPMG, Expedia, BT and Goldman Sachs are among the blue-chips who do it, and they seem to get by.

The reasoning behind these moves is that their teams will get more value from the environment: partly that’s stuff like events programmes, co-location with partners, mentoring opportunities. Partly, it’s just about the feel or atmosphere of the place (and it might be the good coffee, a little bit). The cool young people these companies want to hire have grown up seeing pictures of super-cool offices like Google and want a piece of the action.

IWG brand Spaces is operational in Leeds’ Park Row, with Pure Offices at Broad Gate. Established operators include Gilbanks, Bizspace, Flexspace, Citibase and Regus itself. Bruntwood Works has invested heavily in this part of its estate, with Leeds’ Platform building an exemplar.

OBI ourselves are located out of Avenue HQ on East Parade, which is supported by Barclays’ Eagle Lab. WeWork are now very much in the regions, as are Work.Life, Central Working and Runway East. All Work and Social have big plans down at Leeds Dock and Huckletree have opened their first Manchester operation.

As Leeds’ tech and media sectors continue to grow, it’s likely that demand for flexible spaces will grow with them. With more choice on the table, the occupier should be the winner.