Even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent millions of workers to work from their homes, remote work had begun to rise in popularity among workers and business owners alike. While there are certainly several benefits to traditional office environments, remote work can benefit companies in terms of finances and productivity. The death of the traditional office may not be imminent, but the pandemic has certainly demonstrated that those spaces may not be necessary for business success. Instead of the traditional office structure, landlords, investors, and business owners are turning to the development of flex spaces to fill those holes.

Flex spaces can take on many forms, as the name suggests. For the most part, flex spaces are designed to take advantage of the square footage offered in traditional office spaces and make them more accessible, free-form, and adaptable.

Unlike more traditional office spaces, the leases offered for flex spaces are shorter and more flexible. The spaces themselves are designed to host various setups and accommodate various needs as they arise. With flex space, growth and expansion are expected, allowing adaptation and change more effectively than traditional spaces.

The desire for these flex spaces stems mainly from the younger workforce members who want more out of a workplace than the traditional style has to offer. Not only should their space be functional, but it should also possess aesthetic value and exciting amenities. Businesses in Silicon Valley, for example, have been popularized because of their unique, engaging office layouts and recreational features. Because of these growing demands for nontraditional office spaces, flex spaces have become more popular for businesses in various industries, especially among startups. In addition to the desire for such spaces, a defining ideal of flex or hybrid spaces also pertains to the idea that it is more important to manage the work than the worker. As long as the work gets done, the location does not matter.

Working from home usually receives positive reactions; by allowing employees to work remotely, employers tend to notice a greater level of satisfaction and loyalty among their teams. Granting employees the autonomy to structure their workdays and reducing the amount of time needed to commute to a physical office tends to improve attitudes and mindsets. With remote work, employees have more time to rest, cook meals, and spend time with loved ones. While a small percentage of people would like to return to an office full-time, many others are seeking a hybrid experience after the pandemic. This request is best met through flex spaces, which allow for flexibility and hybridization more efficiently than traditional spaces.

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, flex spaces also offer landlords and real estate investors benefits. Because of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to close their offices, some temporarily and some for good. Left with more vacancies than is ideal, landlords have begun to plan for the future, considering these experiences. Partnerships like the one between Cushman & Wakefield PLC and Industrious have already targeted the office-space industry with a fresh perspective. With the belief that flexible and hybrid workspaces will continue to grow in popularity and demand, this partnership has worked to offer dynamic, flexible leases to entrepreneurs, startups, and well-established businesses alike. Their leases range from the span of a few weeks to multiple years. Offering businesses leases for flex space is proving to be productive for all parties, as this practice helps landlords fill vacancies and grants businesses peace of mind for their futures.

While the pandemic continues to pose problems for businesses and those in real estate management, the future shapes up to be full of hybridization. Because of this, flex spaces are steadily rising in popularity and combating the traditional notion of the office and what it means to work.

David Joseph Simard About Author Natural Disaster Real Estate