How COVID-19 is Impacting Flexible Office Space: What You Should Know About Your Workspace

Vickey Li
May 7, 2020
Vickey Li

The Launch of Managed by OnePiece Work

One of the fascinating lessons I recently found is how to take preventative measures during uncertain times. For many CEOs, the cost of office space is always the first operational cost to be considered in order to lower their business risks. Should your office space solutions need to be REFINED or REDEFINED?

I was recently joined by two industry leaders in Flexible Office Solutions, Mark Gilbreath, CEO of the largest online flexible office marketplace, LiquidSpace and Gabe Regalado from Newmark Knight Frank. I invited them to speak in our most recent webinar to open up a discussion about how to effectively set up an action plan for your current office to ensure your “after-crisis” transition will be seamless. Continue reading for my thoughts on flexible office trends, how to effectively communicate with landlords, and how OnePiece Work is adapting to new health and safety concerns.

Flexible office space providers have experienced exponential growth

Previously, office spaces were largely occupied in both core and de-centralized districts. With its continuous capital calls, the high demands have already created high prices for tenants. In addition to steep prices, states like California with high tax rates pushed several industries to the secondary market. These considerations created an opportunity to fulfill flexible office space needs.

Flexible office space providers have experienced exponential growth in the past 10 years. Many office transactions and leases were made through flexible office space providers prior to the virus. Small startups are no longer the only tenants in flexible office spaces; corporate companies and enterprises are now interested in the benefits of working in flexible office spaces. For example, WeWork transitioned from 3% of enterprise tenants four years ago to 40% of enterprise tenants (60% small business tenants) today. Providers in this market are actively expanding to accommodate enterprises’ developing office space needs.

Also, coworking spaces are no longer limited to tech companies. A variety of businesses are in need of flexible office space to carry out their operations.

The traditionally predictable world of real estate is more chaotic and unclear than ever

COVID-19 has flipped the office sector on its head as more companies move toward mandatory remote work. Some office space providers won’t survive the current crisis. After some current players drop off, there will likely be more “plug-and-play” options in the market. The crisis itself will accelerate both the failure of weak players and the rise of new players such as landlord themself. An increase in new players is also likely to result from the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, for many flexible office providers, we must re-define what flexible office space means post-COVID-19. It will be difficult to define which office spaces are “flexible” and which are not. Keeping up with increased demand for flexible office space after the pandemic, emerging providers can offer tenants a new, innovative experience.

OnePiece Work offers solution-driven services instead of service-driven solutions

At OnePiece Work, our members aren’t looking for traditional nor design-build leases, whether for a new space or for an HQ. Instead, they make purpose-driven decisions when deciding on office space. Lighting, specialized office furniture arrangement, dedicated cable internet, privacy, customized concierge needs, and extended resources network are all the expanded services we offer to qualify the flexible needs from our tenants.

Not only we help corporations and small businesses like Sapling, but also we provide service to landlords helping them navigate the flex office market to develop successful strategies. For example, landlords like our Santa Monica and Santa Clara have unique vision and demands for their properties, we would have to sit in to provide consultancy services at first, work with landlord together to develop strategies on delivering customized property management and event services to navigate leasing activities at their niche focus.

Efficiency is the new consideration for the future of work

The coronavirus outbreak has triggered a trial run for remote work on a large scale. Capital calls for new funds will become more challenging accelerates the re-decision making process of office space for lots of companies. Companies today must also consider how the office will impact company culture, how to keep attracting best talents, and how to inspire creativity while keeping the team productive. Economically efficient with high productivity considerations become more important thoughts rather than just a number. Work from home will see some new adoption as firms realize that it doesn’t mean the end of productivity, but the majority of workers will choose to get back in the office to maintain work-life separation.

Office configurations must change to adapt to the new health + safety environments

Reopening the economy will definitely be a slow process. I see companies slowly introducing their employees back into office spaces over time, likely over the course of a few years. Companies will likely also implement different rotations schedules while focusing more on the safety of their workspaces. At OnePiece Work, we have to increase the cleaning requirements to sanitize surfaces and common areas after every use at work. Social-distancing among work stations are also essential, we are in action to not overcrowd our offices, which is a practice that we implemented before the crisis by rearranging or removing office furniture. We’ll also have to avoid complicated operational processes by pausing non-essential services such as snacks and events, which often involve too many vendors. Masks are required and provided for all members and employees at OnePiece Work, as well as limiting the capacity of our offices. In our Shanghai office, we even have to conduct health tests daily for all members prior to them entering the office.

Companies today should plan for short-term strategies such as a 3-month, 6-month plan, rather than for the next two years. Conditions around the world are changing rapidly, so you must be able to adapt accordingly. Focus on a strategic approach for your office space. Consider factors such as available services, commitment length, cost, space ownership, and the stability of the master tenant.

Vickey Li is the co-founder and CEO at OnePiece Work, a global community of innovative leaders in tech. OnePiece Work was built upon Vickey’s experience living and working abroad in major metropolitan cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. Her passion for community and extensive experience in commercial real estate led her to the vision of a cross-border co-working space that would promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and accelerate global expansion for startups. In just three years, OnePiece Work has expanded to 10 cities globally and is a community of over 300 companies worldwide.

Feel free to connect with me via Linkedin with any questions you may have!

Contact us for OnePiece Flex Office Solution today!


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