Workthere reveals top five demand drivers for UK flexible office space in May

Business people in silhouette

Downsizing from a lease is currently the main driver of business demand for flexible office space in the UK, according to a survey by Workthere.  

This is followed by those searching for suburban office space, with corporates taking regional/HQ space ranking third, and in joint fourth place, enquiries from those businesses needing additional space due to special distancing and 'swing space'. 
 
The survey also revealed that overall enquiry levels in the UK for flexible space have more than doubled from 8 per cent of the pre-COVID level of enquiries in April to 19 per cent in May.

Cal Lee, global head of Workthere, says: “The rise in enquiry levels for flexible office space in the UK is obviously an encouraging marker and we hope to see these levels continue to increase, albeit most likely at a slower pace as we move forward into the summer months. The fact that we have seen a majority of enquiries coming from businesses looking to move from a traditional lease, and also those looking for suburban office space, is a trend that we also expect to continue as businesses take stock and we move into the next transition phase of Covid-19.
 
“The current pandemic will be a catalyst for people and companies to reassess current practices in all kinds of ways, and the way we work will be a big part of this. Flexible offices present an option for  those companies hesitant to commit to a long term lease at a time of such uncertainty. The sector is also in a good position to play a vital role as office occupiers look to the flexible office market in order to diversify and add resilience to their occupational portfolio.”
 
When asked for their expected occupancy levels for the following month, the responses were largely the same for the April and May surveys showing 76 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. However, there was a significant decrease in those providers who had been asked for rent relief in May at 43 per cent, down from 53 per cent in April. This supports the overall jump in those UK providers who are optimistic about the prospects for the flexible office sector over the next 12 months with the latest survey showing this figure at 83 per cent, compared to just 63 per cent in April.
 
Jess Alderson, global research analyst at Workthere, says: “Our second sentiment survey indicated a number of positive signals for the flexible office market with optimism up among providers and requests for rent relief down. With some businesses now returning to the office and a semblance of a ‘new normal’ for the workplace coming to light, we are also beginning to see the return of some confidence and activity, which the sector can build on.”