Despite an economic and broader real estate market recovery in 2021, notably the second half of the year, new activity by flexible workspace operators remained subdued. Across the 36 EMEA markets monitored, there was a modest net increase in the total flex inventory of 289,900 sqm, down -10.8% on 2020 growth levels.
Although net expansion of stock fell, close to half a million (495,000) sqm of new flex space opened across multiple sites, equivalent to new space added in 2020 (496,000 sqm). However, some 205,000 sqm of space was closed (vs 171,000 sqm in 2020) and 47,000 sqm (vs 44,000 sqm in 2020) was abandoned. Overall, this means flex saturation levels remain low, at just 2.1% (on average) of total office stock.
This streamlining of flex stock was attributable to a number of operators. WeWork’s continued rationalisation of its business saw closures in Warsaw, Oslo, and Madrid throughout H2, taking the 2021 total amount WeWork closed to ca. 64,000 sqm - 30% of all closed space. While WeWork’s contraction proved substantial, other, predominately smaller, single-location operators also ceased operation. Combined, this put 2021’s total closed space 22.3% ahead of 2020’s.