A hub-and-spoke model for post-Covid-19 flexible working?

Where next for the flexspace market in the coming age of de-centralised working? The BCO and architects Arney Fender Katsalidis brought together a panel of experts to find out

One of the great unknowns of the post-pandemic world of work is what will happen to the flexspace market. Will the sector take a pounding at a time of economic uncertainty, or will coworking spaces in particular bounce back stronger than ever?

The BCO (British Council for Offices) has been reviewing changing market conditions for flexspace providers in the UK with architects Arney Fender Katsalidis, and held a webinar chaired by writer and editor Helen Parton on 23 July 2020 to discuss some emerging trends. Participants in the debate included Earle Arney, chief executive of Arney Fender Katsalidis, Jeremy Myerson of WORKTECH Academy, and Lisa Cations, head of enterprise sales EMEA at Hana, the flexible space subsidiary of CBRE. You can view the webinar here.

Silver fox satellites

One of the key topics under discussion was whether flexible working would adopt a hub-and-spoke model with more local and suburban sites to supplement central offices. Arney agreed that ‘turning up to work to evidence your effort has gone – flexible, de-centralised work is now the norm and part of the office landscape.’

However, Earle also offered a note of caution: ‘There might be some hubris about the hub-and-spoke model. I question a radical shift. I don’t think the city centre will change and the office isn’t dead. But cities are likely to become younger. Hubs on the periphery and in the commuter belt might become “silver fox satellites” for older people.’

One thing for certain is that, after years on the fringes, flexible working is right at the heart of the property map. In a poll, three-quarters of webinar attendees agreed that the flexspace market would weather the current storm. But, more worryingly, less than one in five (just 18 per cent) said their organisations would be taking up more flexible space from providers.

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