European markets with low levels of existing flexible workspace have seen the greatest growth in new flex operations over the first half of 2020, according to the latest flexible workspace report by global real estate advisor Colliers International.
The Flex Forward report released today highlights how markets such as Hamburg, Vienna, Moscow and St. Petersburg saw relatively strong flexible workspace take-up levels during the first half of 2020, accounting for up to 30 per cent of total office take-up. Although there were some notable cancellations in commitments, 162,000 sqm of new flexible workspace opened bringing the flexible share of modern office space to just under two per cent, on average in the region. While the volume of flexible office expansion has slowed, there has been a 1.6 per cent expansion in the first half of 2020.
Throughout the last five years, the supply of flexible workspace in the region has accelerated three-fold. Although WeWork and IWG are significant players in the market, their dominance is being challenged by the growing number of multi-market and multi-site operators and owner-operators. There are more than 1,300 operators providing workspace in more than 3,300 locations across the 42 markets surveyed in the report.
Istvan Toth, Associate Director and Data Scientist for EMEA Research at Colliers said: “We’ve noticed two key trends during this period, demonstrating the ability of the sector to react to significant changes in circumstance. Firstly, operators who are able to provide private work environments to their clients have been transacting well, whereas those providing pure co-working space struggled to provide the reassurance of COVID-secure working space for occupiers.
“Secondly, we have seen a shift in the demand for flexible space move away from the city centre to inner and outer city locations, pointing to early stages of decentralisation as cities face density and commuting disruption.”
Take up data for H1 2020 has shown an increase in flexible workspace demand for inner city locations to 52 per cent compared to only 38 per cent in 2018-19. Likewise, demand increased for suburban areas to 16 per cent, compared to 12 per cent in previous years.
Kevin Turpin, Regional Director of Research, CEE at Colliers said: “The modern flexible office market in Prague has been developing gradually over the last few years, with more traditional serviced offices having been on the market for much longer. In total there are ca.77,000 sqm of flex space which is equivalent to 2.1% of the total stock. A further 12,000 sqm of space is due to be added in the next 6 months. Most of this space is in quite central or inner-city locations and we expect this to remain the case for the near term. The main reason is that Prague’s public transportation system is quite efficient, and the city is not as large as some of those in western Europe. In current times, there are strict rules on wearing face masks on public transport and it seems that most people are respecting this. According to Google’s most recent mobility report for Prague’s public transport (transit hubs), usage is down by about 20% when compared to January and February this year. As a result, some commuters are preferring to use their cars which is causing some additional traffic problems.”
Petr Zalsky, Head of Office Agency, Czech Republic said: “Flexible workspace and remote working is being considered by many corporates as an addition to their core office or as a scenario for smaller developing companies. Please see the Colliers´s Flex Forward Report with detailed information about the EMEA market. Quite valuable intel for both, occupiers and landlords.”
The Flex Forward report also examined the various options for occupiers and landlords looking to utilise flexible workspace within their portfolios, setting out the various options available.
The report can be downloaded from the Colliers International website here