Posted by Patrick Kennedy

Posted 29 March, 2019 OBI BLOG

Anyone who keeps half an eye on Manchester’s property market can’t help but have noticed that there’s been a marked increase in managed workspace in the city centre in recent years.

Before the current boom, managed workspace might more commonly have been referred to as ‘serviced offices” and in that guise they’ve been around for a long time.

What’s happened now is that those operators have reimagined themselves and expanded their horizons, while new operators have entered the market. The concept has evolved from renting a few desks and getting your calls answered, to being a whole ecosystem for creative businesses to flourish.

The most notable addition being WeWork, who are due to launch their third space in Manchester at Dalton Place in June and have a further space under offer set to launch in June. Other operators who have established a presence in the city include; Central Working, WorkLife and more recently, Huckletree, who will open their doors in August. Spaces are also set to acquire another 120,000 sq ft at 125 Deansgate, due for completion in Q4 this year.

The new concept of managed workspace is providing design-led solutions with quality service and amenity, and it is attracting occupiers of all sizes. In Manchester city centre there has been a significant rise in start-ups who are attracted to the flexible nature of managed workspace, but there are also SMEs and large corporates who see the benefit of incorporating flexible leasing strategies into their property strategy.

In recent months, we’ve seen blue chip business names such as Lloyds, KPMG and Expedia acquiring space from managed workspace operators. These occupiers see the benefit of acquiring this type of workspace as it allows them to launch offices in new locations, or ‘step-outs’ for a particular department who would benefit from being located within a creative community to undertake specific project work.

It’s clear that managed workspace is no longer just about small private workspace for young businesses. One benefit of flexibility comes where companies, for whatever reason, find it difficult to predict their growth. The ability to attract large and small businesses enables them to share enterprise and the communal spaces and style of workspace appeals to the millennial workforce which enables occupiers to attract and retain talent, establish a culture and maximise productivity.

The flexible offering of managed workspace is an alternative to traditional conventional solutions. In Manchester city centre, there is a depth to the offering, allowing occupiers to consider prime locations close to key transport interchanges, or alternatively locations such as the Northern Quarter and Ancoats, slightly edgier areas that tend to appeal to the tech and creative sectors.

Operators allow an occupier to acquire space on a flexible licence agreement and simply pay for the facilities that they use. This means occupiers can move into the space quickly and have minimal set up costs as the space is furnished and provides a ‘plug and play’ solution. There are also different types of space that an occupier can choose ranging from a co-working desk, a resident desk or a private office allowing them to choose the right option for their business.

What are the benefits?

Taking on some of the points outlined above, any business considering acquiring workspace should consider the benefits outlined below and whether they align with your business – could managed workspace be the option that you are seeking?

• A flexible licence agreement means no long-term lease commitment and the opportunity to react to the changing needs of your business.
• There is the variety of choice within Manchester city centre to choose both conventional and unconventional refurbished workspace to reflect your business culture.
• The ability to move quickly – the space is fitted out and there are no prolonged legal negotiations or fit out to undertake.
• You have the opportunity to fix your occupational costs as the licence agreements provide an all-inclusive cost.
• Several operators provide access to communal breakout and informal meeting spaces without additional costs.
• The opportunity to be part of a community as operators will have community managers who activate the spaces and encourage collaboration between the occupiers.
• There will be operators who host regular business and social events, which can be beneficial to your business.

How do I choose the right Managed Workspace?

The rise in managed workspace has meant that there is more choice than ever for an occupier. But identifying the right space can be time-consuming and unproductive, especially for a young business where time needs to be spent ‘on the tools’.

Business occupiers may have traditionally spoken with a broker who has limited knowledge of the availability, costs and amenity within each centre. This leads to conversations with operators who don’t have the product aligned to that occupier’s requirements.

To identify the right space for your business we would recommend that you set out a clear brief and speak with a local expert who understands the dynamics of the local managed workspace market.

Some of the things to consider in your brief are:
– What type of space am I seeking – conventional or unconventional space.
– How flexible a licence agreement do I require – certain operators will offer more flexibility than others.
– Do you require space that is occupied by particular sectors?
– Would you like the ability to use your own IT provider?
– How important is access to communal breakout space.
– Do you have any specific security requirements?
– Set your budget for your occupational costs.

How can we help?

OBI have launched a new dedicated team focussed on providing the best advice through expert knowledge of the flexible workspace market in Manchester. With vast experience in working with leading landlords and developers, OBI have built an in-depth understanding of the operators within the city centre.

Our relationship with workspace operators ensures we have the most up-to-date market information including the current availability, pricing structures and an understanding of the level of amenity in each centre. Our market intelligence and insights can ensure you make an effective decision on the best real estate solution for your business.

For more information and advice on managed workspace and which operator would best fit your business, please contact me on 07487648272 or email me a [email protected]

Have a good weekend!

Patrick