What Are Flexible Office Spaces? 4 Tips to Choose the Best One for Your Team

By 2030, the flexible office space industry is predicted to occupy 30% of all office space. Distributed work becomes the go-to option for a growing number of companies worldwide, so it’s no wonder flex spaces are top of mind for their HR and People operations teams.

For some employees, working outside the traditional office means working from home. For others, it more frequently includes coffee shops or shared workspaces, especially for younger generations who prefer to work in person.

If you’re a People Operations, Workplace, or HR professional looking to accommodate employee needs for flexible workspaces, read on – this guide is for you.

What is a flexible workspace?

Flexible workspaces are a type of office space adaptable to the changing needs of a remote or hybrid team and designed to accommodate workers and companies with various working preferences and requirements.

Flex spaces can have different open office layouts or offer private offices with common areas, conference rooms you can book on demand, and phone booths for when you need privacy.

When working in a flexible workspace, employees or their companies typically pay a daily, weekly, or monthly fee, which allows them to use the workspace and additional amenities like free Wi-Fi and coffee, printers, scanners, ergonomic chairs, and different gadgets.

Other than employees of large companies, independent contractors, entrepreneurs, and startup teams often visit flexible workspaces as it’s more affordable than renting a traditional office.

Why companies use flexible workspaces

As we entered 2022, companies that worked remotely in the past two years had to redefine work models to meet employees' expectations and attitudes toward how they will be allowed to work. Why did many of them choose a flexible work environment?

1. Flex spaces provide the level of flexibility workers need

Of all the workers who participated in a 2022 survey, 95% care about flexible working hours. In 2021, “more workplace flexibility” was one of the main reasons why people started looking for new jobs.

To avoid losing great candidates, companies need to accommodate the employees’ wishes for more autonomy and better work-life balance, which can be achieved by offering benefits like flexible terms when it comes to work location and time.

With flexible workspaces, you cater to both employees who don’t have suitable conditions to work from home or feel lonely doing it and distributed team members who wouldn’t be able to commute to a conventional office space.

2. Flexible offices reduce occupancy costs

The cost-related benefits of paying for a flexible workspace are numerous:

  • You can rent it for short-term usage
  • You don’t pay for cleaning the space, kitchen and office supplies, and utilities
  • You don’t have to worry about decorating the space
  • You don’t have to rent a whole office in a new city or country if you’re still just testing a new market

With this in mind, your overall office space costs can be significantly lower than when renting a traditional office.

A traditional office usually involves a long-term lease, cleaning fees, utility bills, decorating and maintaining the space, etc. This can be very costly on an annual basis, especially with real estate prices going up over the past few years.

But the cost-effectiveness of flex spaces isn’t just about cutting costs; it’s about investing in something employees will use and love. Managing remote workspace budgets helps you see how much employees are using the workspace benefits and what works best for them. For Workplace and People teams everywhere, knowing money is well spent and goes towards something employees use and benefit from is a clear sign of a well-executed workplace strategy.

3. Flexible workspaces help teams connect

Remote and distributed teams often struggle to build meaningful connections among team members, and the management might find it challenging to create a company culture when their team members are spread across the world.

Giving your employees a chance to meet at least occasionally in a co-working space or explore hot desking together can provide them with the necessary dose of in-person interaction and boost employee engagement and collaboration. Moreover, employees can combat the feeling of isolation that often follows remote work by working in an open space from time to time, surrounded by their co-workers.

4. Flex spaces level the playing field for employees in big metro areas and small towns

One of the challenges of a distributed team is the fear of not being presented with the same opportunities and benefits.

Companies offering flexible workspaces send a clear message to current employees and new hires that everyone's work is visible and everyone gets the same benefits and opportunities. This is especially crucial for companies that have offices in big metro areas but want their employees in smaller locations to have a private office space and workstations to do their best work.

How to choose flexible office spaces

Before picking a flexible office space for your remote team, consider the following.

1. Talk to your employees and ask them what they want

According to the SalesForce report, over 85% of surveyed executives say ineffective collaboration and communication is a significant cause of failure in business.

How open communication adds to determining the best flexible office spaces for your team:

  • It allows employees to openly share their needs regarding the environment they want to work in
  • Employers have a clear picture of locations employees will work from
  • It helps Workplace, HR, People Ops, and the executives’ team know what employees need: whether it’s a dedicated desk in a shared office or a co-working space with meeting rooms

2. Consider the type of work your employees do

If you’re looking for a flexible workspace for your customer support or sales team, chances are they will need more peace than other team members. They might be having calls with customers or prospects all day long, for which they’ll need to have either a private office or a meeting room. Make sure the flex office space you pick can offer these rooms.

3. Consider location characteristics, too

The best flexible office is usually the closest one, but there are other location-related factors to consider. High-traffic areas may cause unnecessary stress for your team as traffic jams might make them late for meetings. Choose quiet areas but well-connected with your employees’ residences.

Another important factor is the neighborhood infrastructure. Does the flex office space have a restaurant nearby? A gym or a metro station? Is it close to a school where your employees’ kids go? These aspects could motivate your employees to work on-site more often, so the flexible workspace really pays off.

4. Use automation tools to explore your options

Manual research can take up a lot of time. Solutions like Gable allow you to explore your options and compare a number of co-working and flex office spaces in one place and fast. Just choose a location you’re interested in and see your options. When you click on a city, you can see the prices, available spots, amenities, and other important details.

What’s best about Gable is that it allows you to book the seats for your entire team right away.

How remote workspaces tie into company culture

Another major concern of employers managing remote teams is how to build bonds among team members. Aside from the benefits, remote work can bring isolation, which can be an obstacle to effective collaboration.

As Buffer's research shows, loneliness (21%), collaborating or communicating (21%), and distractions (16%) at home are the biggest struggles of remote workers. It may not seem like a significant percentage. Nevertheless, having one-fifth of your team feel isolated may severely affect the overall business.

Enabling employees everywhere to have a dedicated place to work alone or connect with coworkers is essential for building your remote culture. Human connection in distributed teams needs to be intentional and designed with purpose, and for many teams, remote workspaces help build that connection.

Experience benefits for People Operations and Workplace teams

The key formula for a prosperous business includes tools, processes, and people. The latter is crucial as today's tech industry is packed with solutions making it straightforward for companies to find the software most suitable for their HR needs.

On the other hand, finding and keeping top talent is challenging. Again, it all comes down to creating a culture that will make you an employer worth considering. HR and PeopleOps play a significant role in it. Solutions like Gable help you get insight into how often employees use workspaces, why they come in, and what works best for them.

The integration functions allow you to connect it with your HRIS and SSO for easier management—workspace usage tracking and setting remote workplace budget policies are performed through a single dashboard.

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Andrea Rajic