Why more start-ups and SMEs are moving to a flexible working model

Businesses embracing hybrid working are now re-evaluating how they use their office space and ‘right sizing’

Flexible workspace
Glandore's space at Arthur Street in Belfast

As more businesses evaluate how they work in the post-pandemic world, many are increasingly turning to flexible, serviced office spaces worldwide.

And if you break down the perks of flexible workspaces, they can enhance how companies shape their working week, benefitting from meeting room access and a varied calendar of wellness and community events to support company employee engagement strategies, as well as leadership and development programmes.

Serviced office spaces act like an all-inclusive package for companies that come complete with high end furnishings, IT support, operational support and reception and concierge services.

With many businesses now fully embracing hybrid working, they have been forced to re-evaluate how they use their office space, with the term ‘right sizing’ coined to describe the rationalisation of their spaces.

Given that many employees are only in the office three or fours days a week, collaboration has become more important. It allows businesses to engage and communicate with their teams, build rapport and encourage creativity, which in turn helps them grow.

Flexible working
Glandore has two spaces in Belfast city centre, including a newly refurbished grade-A building in BT1 on Arthur Street

As a result, there is more demand for collaboration zones, phone booths, meeting pods and meetings rooms, while technology is also advancing to make remote virtual meetings more accessible.

Serviced office providers such as Glandore, which has two spaces in Belfast city centre, including a newly refurbished grade-A building in BT1 on Arthur Street, provide this exact model and can even offer bespoke and custom fit out services making it an attractive long term solution.

The flexible office market has exhibited remarkable resilience and growth, despite economic uncertainties over recent times.

We are seeing SMEs, entrepreneurs and start-ups considering their spaces more carefully, with many of this size appreciating the flexibility of having no long term commitments to lease terms and the opportunity to scale up or down in line with their business needs.

Having access to turn key offices is another huge attraction for businesses as it avoids additional capital expenditure, provides an immediate set up and maximum utilisation of their space in the hybrid working era.

Location is key for successful serviced office providers and you will generally find that they are strategically located in central business districts and close to major transport hubs, making the day to day commute more manageable for teams on in office days, which is a major selling point for bringing teams back into the office.

Whilst there has been a resurgence in demand for flexibility and serviced spaces, the office market is currently in a period of transition.

Flexible workspace
Nial Borthistle

Sustainable, grade-A buildings are now the preferred options for a lot of businesses looking to meet their ESG goals and sustainable serviced offices providers can provide a cost-effective solution for SMEs who do not have the budget for a traditional space with the same criteria.

With added demand for serviced office spaces we have seen a number of new serviced office providers enter the market alongside a flood of Grade-B properties subletting spaces, but high interest rates and an economic slowdown has seen investors in certain sectors enter with caution, causing a slight dip in demand.

  • Nial Borthistle is head of member engagement at Glandore, an all-Ireland flexible, serviced, office provider with two workspaces on Arthur Street in Belfast as well offices in both Dublin and Cork