Written by: CORT and Nathan Spitsbergen, MBA
Flexible office space is a concept that has been in flux, evolving over the past few years. In recent years, it’s been so enmeshed with coworking that most people used the terms interchangeably. But the modern definition of this concept, which started out as industrial space with offices and connected warehouse space, is essentially any short-term leased office space. While most traditional office leases extend anywhere from five to 20 years, flex space provides organizations with the ability to be more agile and more capable of responding to changes in the marketplace.
What Is a Flexible Office Space?
The pandemic has accelerated the trends already existing while giving many businesses the impetus to seek flexible office space as a potential solution for the changing demands as they return to the physical workspace. Defining flexible office space is a little tricky since the definition is still evolving. The working definitions you need to know to include the following:
- Flexible office space is an umbrella term describing everything that doesn’t fall within traditional long-term office leases. It includes co-working space, on-demand space, executive suites, and private offices available for periods as short as by the week or even by the day.
- Coworking space is shared workspaces that offer freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small teams/startups access to office amenities such as breakrooms, meeting rooms, desks, and work tables. These spaces typically combine individuals and small teams from varying organizations in one large area.
- Swing space is a temporary working environment, often used while existing office space is undergoing renovations or awaiting construction or in flux due to rapid market shifts (i.e., changing post-pandemic needs). It may be private offices or entire business units.
How Can It Work in a Traditional Office Environment?
There’s been a steady progression for businesses to need to remain agile — something that’s perhaps more important now than it has ever been. The flexibility that flex space inherently provides makes it ideal for businesses of all types and sizes. Demand for varying types of flex space has intensified since COVID-19, driven by the varied nature of the occupants themselves who could be anyone from a solo remote worker to a huge corporation.
To gain a clearer perspective on how flexible office space works, we spoke with Anna Meyers with Meraki Installers, LLC. After the company’s headquarters in Pensacola suffered hurricane damage, the solar services company found itself in need of a short-term lease for a temporary location. “We were unfortunately hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sally at our headquarters building,” recalls Meyers.
“With the significant time it takes to process insurance claims plus an added timeline of a full building renovation, we knew we needed to find a temporary location where our employees could meet face-to-face and keep our culture thriving.”
Although the company didn’t exactly find the large, open space it was looking for, they did find flex space that works perfectly to meet their needs. “We have several conference areas, a break room, and lots of offices perfectly sized for small group collaboration,” says Meyers.
“Teams within departments, a handful of full-timers not enjoying remote work and our directors have been able to utilize and take advantage of the space we ended up in.”
What Are the Benefits of Incorporating Flexible Space Into an Office?
Many experts in the field predict that flex space will play an increasingly prominent role in the commercial real estate landscape in the future. It’s an agile solution to rapidly changing market conditions, shifting physical office footprints, and evolving working conditions.
Meyers agrees. “Workspaces have to be fluid now,” she notes. “Employees collaborate across departments, some want to work at home full time, some want to forever work in an office, and some will rotate shifts and have to share ‘desks.’”
Flex space doesn’t just provide a physical spot for workers to land. It offers the benefits of a physical office with less commitment than a traditional CRE lease requires. It can be used for meeting space for collaboration, temporary swing space while evaluating current needs and so much more. Meyers explains, “Flex spaces are beautiful no matter if you are trying to save money by cross utilizing furniture or cross utilizing a space (training room turns into event space, etc.).”
Flex space also gave the company options to support its growth. Meraki Installers, LLC chose to keep working remotely for a while, believing that using local coworking spots would be sufficient. Meyers notes, “We eventually decided to find a temporary location to support the acquisition growth. We are constantly hiring, so it is imperative the new hires have a place to meet with HR, get their equipment from IT, and have a place to train specifically to their department.”
How Is CORT Here to Help?
“CORT was referred to us by one of our directors who used them in Atlanta,” says Meyers. “The ‘Flex Space’ concept was discussed after an initial inquiry to CORT. This was exactly what we needed having so many employees and departments rotating in and out of offices. We were able to create our own coworking space if you will.”
Providing a guiding hand to help businesses discover how flex space can help them meet their modern needs isn’t the only way that CORT can help. Furniture rental — or “CORT Furniture as a Service™” (FaaS) as we like to call it — provides an added layer of agility both within traditional offices and in flex spaces.
Meyers agrees, “Renting temporarily was extremely helpful moving in because of the endless options and the option to exchange/return pieces that weren’t useful if necessary.”
“Sourcing brand new furniture to purchase would have been a nightmare with the current production and shipping delays,” she continues. “It would have been very difficult purchasing furniture to fit this space and our permanent building. I can’t imagine we would have nailed those decisions. Renting was quick and painless!”
Additionally, she concludes, “Every team uses the furniture in a different manner to work for them. I like knowing that we have options and can accommodate any group coming in.”
Ultimately, the question of whether flex space is right for you depends on your organization’s needs. However, because it’s continually evolving, there are more options out there, making it easier to find space that can best help your employees and business thrive.
Ready to learn more about how CORT can help you? Visit CORT.com to explore the variety of options available to help your workplace work smarter, whether that’s in a traditional office or flex space.
About Nathan Spitsbergen
For over 11 years, Nathan Spitsbergen, MBA has served as a District General Manager for CORT. Every day, he works to provide flexibility to individuals and companies who need temporary furniture solutions for their homes or workplace. Follow Nathan on LinkedIn or send him a message if you’re ready to work today.