Skip to main content Skip to footer

Report predicts flex offices will provide wider location and specification choice

Download Report
Flexpansion  Hero

Operators adapt flex-offices to capture occupier demand post-pandemic

Occupiers can expect to see an increase in location choices and enhanced specification in the flexible office space, predicts Colliers in its latest research report, Flexpansion 2021, which analysed 36 EMEA markets (Europe, Middle East and Africa). 

“Demand for flexible workspace has continued to increase sharply across Europe and operators are responding by increasing market share and adapting their offering to suit changing occupier needs,” said Paul Finucane, Director and Head of Business Space, Colliers, “In addition to the high-density ‘per desk’ model, operators are increasingly offering personalised office suites on a flexible basis. This is attractive to new entrants and expanding FDI companies and we have seen several deals completed in recent months on 12- to 36-month terms.”

With many organisations permanently adopting an agile working policy, and some businesses moving away from traditional office space altogether, the report shows existing flexible workspace operators have responded by taking more space and 43 new operators have entered the EMEA market. In Dublin, many flex locations are now at full capacity and the sector continues to grow with both Regus and Pembroke Hall expanding in Q1 2022. 

Alongside operator expansion, substantial growth has occurred in landlord-driven concepts. The report found that across EMEA, 33 new sites totalling close to 1 million sq. ft. have been opened under the landlord-driven model since 2020, with 19 openings last year. This model emerged in an Irish context when JCD Group launched its own concept, Flexi, in Penrose Dock in Cork. More recently, institutional landlord IPUT launched the ‘Making It Work’ flex concept with plans to grow this to 5% of their 2.4 million sq. ft. office portfolio in Dublin. “This is partially in response to the pandemic as landlords realised they need to adapt their office offering,” Paul added, “Flex concepts allow them to create partnerships with companies entering the market with a view to keeping them within the portfolio as they expand.” 

Demand from flexible workspace operators to acquire space in central business districts (CBDs) remains strong, but as workforces become more widely distributed as the ‘work from anywhere’ approach is utilised by many organisations, the demand for decentralised flex-space has grown. A combined 2.8 million opened across inner and outer city locations, narrowly surpassing the 2.7 million sq. ft. opened in CBD locations. 

Commenting, Kate Ryan, Director of Research explained, “in addition to decentralisation within Dublin, further growth is expected in regional locations in the coming years. News of Iconic Offices expanding into the Cork market is also notable and reflects the depth of demand outside Dublin. And it is not just in the location of space where we will see a decentralisation - a redistribution of player power is underway with the pipeline space allocated to the IWG/WeWork duo dropping to 16.2% by the end of last year versus the 66% pipeline share they held in H1 2019.”

By market, the greatest decentralisation of flexible office space occurred in Barcelona, Cologne, Warsaw and Munich last year. In contrast London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen further centralised their space offer. 

Despite the increase in the number of players in the flexible office space market, new activity remains subdued with only 2.1% of available office stock being flexible. This low rate can be attributed to ongoing rationalisation by some operators which accounted for 30% of the space closed, while other smaller and typically single location operators ceased operating in 2021. 

Key market findings: 
Across the 36 EMEA markets monitored, there was a net increase in the total flex inventory of 3.1 million sq. ft.
The rate of growth was modest, reflecting a 10.8% decline on the growth experienced in 2020 as WeWork in particular continued to streamline its business
WeWork’s continued rationalisation saw closures in Warsaw, Oslo and Madrid
The Office Group entered the Hamburg market, opening Schopenstehl 13 in the city centre. Post-merger with Fora, the two operators will be in 72 locations
17 new sites opened in Paris totalling 590,000 sq. ft.
Institutional investor, IPUT, launched its new flex concept named ‘Making It Work’, with plans to grow this by 5% of its 2.4 million sq. ft. office portfolio in Dublin
In the UK, Currys announced it is moving to ‘fully flex’ and signed up to approximately 50 sites across WeWork’s portfolio


Flexpansion  Search

Report predicts flex offices will provide wider location and specification choice

Download Report
Related Experts

Kate Ryan

Director | Head of Research


Kate is Head of Research for Colliers in Ireland. Kate's role involves tracking and analysing property market data and trends and producing market reports and commentaries across all sectors. Kate is also part of Colliers EMEA research team and provides Irish market data which feeds into EMEA reports, allowing for analysis and comparison of occupier and investment trends.

Kate is an Associate Member of the SCSI and holds an MSc in Real Estate from TU Dublin. 

View expert

Paul Finucane

Director | Business Space


Paul  has over 19 years in years experience in the commercial property sector and joined the Colliers team in  2004 folllowing a 3 year period at Allied Irish Bank Plc. He is joint head of the offices department in Dublin  and specialises in the acquisition of office space for incoming  multi-national companies. 

In 2019, Paul acted for LinkedIn in the largest office transaction of the year where they pre-let 3 office blocks in the CBD as part of their long term expansion plans in Dublin. This success has continued into 2020 where Paul acted for Slack in the largest city centre acquiistion year to date on behalf of Slack Technologies. 

Paul is a licensed professional and a full member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)


View expert