Cognizant of tremendous potential in the sharing economy – particularly around coworking - BOOQED tied up with Colliers International last year to launch a flexible workspace partnership, which gives occupiers in Hong Kong and Singapore an easy and speedy access to a variety of short-term flexible workspaces.

The real estate industry is set for more disruption. We believe the flexible workspace sector will continue to evolve. These are five commercial real estate trends that will drive change in 2019 and beyond.

Acceleration of PropTech adoption. When we launched BOOQED at the end of 2016, the term “PropTech” hadn’t been coined yet. Today, PropTech start-ups are receiving enormous attention from venture capital. Indeed, no real estate professional -- whether owners or operators, brokers or architects -- would deny the impact that technology is having on the industry. More real estate firms are embracing the latest innovations to streamline work tasks and create a more paperless, transparent approach to sourcing deals, managing assets, analysing data and closing transactions.

Millennials Come of Age. Demographic trends in the millennial generation, (broadly, those born in the 1980s and early 1990s), will continue to have a growing impact on commercial development demands. These millennials now comprise the largest proportion of the labour force; they’re forming families; and they are now taking senior positions. This has a couple of implications. First, they have different needs in office and retail space than previous generations. As retail consumers, millennials’ shopping habits have veered to the internet. So, they look for experiences and services like entertainment and dining when they visit physical locations. Second, when it comes to office space, millennials increasingly want to work close to home, or work remotely from their homes. So, their ranks are driving a higher demand for shared office space.

Growth of coworking will continue but trend towards a “Full-stack” model. Full-stack start-ups (a term used to describe Uber, WeWork or AirBnB) are tech-enabled companies that offer complete end-to-end services that generally compete with (rather than sell to) incumbents. So, WeWork is a coworking provider that is acting more like a commercial landlord, with services beyond traditional coworking that include HQ by WeWork (larger private offices without WeWork branding to medium-sized businesses), brokerage / advisory services (WeWork Space Services), and even residential (WeLive - furnished apartments and flexible rentals with amenities). This is an important differentiator as we believe “traditional” coworking operators will start to suffer from oversupply, a hypercompetitive environment, and economic uncertainty. 

Amenities, amenities, amenities. We see growing demand for amenity spaces in commercial buildings. In markets such as Sydney, 6-star “arrival lounges” are increasingly common. For example, on a recent business trip to Sydney, I had most of my meetings at The Porter, an executive lounge in the CBD operated by office design company Haworth. Similarly, I was intrigued by the atrium of the BlackRock building in New York City, which has comfortable chairs and tables where people can sit for hours, creating energy in what could easily have been dead space.  

Continued adoption of IoT (Internet of Things). The broad application of IoT provides building owners and facility managers the opportunity to streamline every system in a building, resulting in happier tenants, smarter decision-making and better security – and even fewer maintenance issues and service calls. This results in better tenant retention, relationships and reputation. In the inaugural Colliers PropTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars (that BOOQED was proud to be part of), a number of companies in our cohort were taking innovative approaches to intelligent buildings and tenant engagement.

Business needs are ever-changing, and innovation is essential to stay ahead of the market. Apart from work and meeting space, BOOQED also lists other spaces such as tables or VIP rooms in restaurants and cafes which can be leased temporarily for meetings or events. The bottom line: making existing spaces accessible to creating net new inventory in the market. 

*The writer is the co-founder & CEO of BOOQED, a Hong Kong-based start-up that provides an online-based marketplace for unique and flexible spaces.

Contact Colliers now to find out if flexible workspace works for your organisation.