On June 10th we hosted FlexForward – the ultimate online industry event that dives deep into the future of Flex Space. We shared plenty of insights into the future of the flex space market and lifted the curtains on the newest OfficeRnD features that help operators and landlords tap into the New World of Work.
You can find a recap from the event below, and you can find a full recording of the session here.
Here’s what you’ll find in the post:
The demand for office space will change drastically over the next few years. During the event, Ben stressed that as demand comes back, it will come back in the shape of flexible demand.
If the last 18 months have taught us anything, we can’t predict the future. Businesses shouldn’t try and predict the future, and part of that is not wanting to sign a 10 year lease and instead moving towards flexible products. 18 months from now something will absolutely be different within an organization.
JLL predicts that the flex space market should jump back to pre-pandemic levels by Q3/Q4 2021. Owners of office space are being more proactive than ever searching for experienced operators. As much as landlords want to, they are not going to become operating companies with a focus on hospitality overnight – though many have tried.
Going forward we will see more owners partnering with operators, and we will also see new operators in the market such as JLL – integrating flex space with property management and experience management. There is a growing awareness of what flex means for owners and investors – more than ever before. That is a critical part of the puzzle.
Forward thinking owners will realize that when the market demand comes back it is going to be VERY competitive. There is going to be a spectrum of choice for customers. The seeds of change are being planted and owners are making plans.
Ben is now seeing a lot of strategic deployment of flex across office assets. Asset owners and landlords companies are thinking about how to support these different models that will be required post-pandemic and investors are understanding more how this works and helping to underwrite these changes.
This new era of office will be designed by customer demand – which is the best part about this shift. The voice of the customer will be heard in the office part of the real estate industry that it hasn’t up until this point. Going forward building owners realize that flex space MUST be a part of every office building, no longer just an exotic thing in some spaces.
Ben stated that brand is about loyalty, confidence, experience, stickiness, and it is about consumer feeling towards a product.
There is no one right answer – I look to the hotel market for comparisons. That is how the consumerized version of office product will go. Where you have a specialized place or destination that has its own sense of self.
If you get a good brand that can leverage local demand and build a community and bring customers from different locations into a building you will find success. Like the hotel market, the flex industry will have more levels that target specific customer segments and price points.
In the market so far today we have not seen significant elasticity. The pricing of flex space at the moment doesn’t have the same range of pricing as rent in residential today and that will likely change in the future.
The opportunity for technology to drive support performance and be a differentiator exists within the flex sector in a different way compared to how it sits in the traditional office market.
Volume of inquires, volume of customer engagements, volume of touchpoint – whether thats requesting services, booking a space, choosing what and why and when I buy. These touchpoint are in the thousands on a daily basis for flex operators, as opposed to traditional lease management when the operator traditionally takes a back seat.
Now tenant experience apps are coming in. The entire tenant experience does impact whether people want to stay in the building and creates opportunity for spaces to impress customers.
There are 3 core areas where Ben thinks technology can make a key difference.
Operational excellence speaks to cost management, the ability to manage your spaces cost-effectively, the number of people you need at each location. Strong operating technology in place allows you to do that efficiently. It allows you to focus on the stuff you do need for the customer. Lower cost of operations increases your space’s profitability.
How simple should the experience be as a customer? Think about your experience of booking a holiday trip or buying things online. We are very comfortable with how we do that online – we don’t have to talk to a lot of people, and there is lots of info on the screen.
The easier those decisions are, and the more pleasant the experience, the more trust there is between the customer and the client. Technology can support the experience of the brand you are trying to build, and it can amplify that brand and experience that the physical spaces on their own cant do.
Technology also allows you to think about additional services and revenue streams you can deliver through your app and the technologies you employ.
What is the data that we have? How are we performing in terms of overall profitability? How are our occupancy levels? What are our marketing costs? How much are we paying for these customers? Are we managing these costs effectively?
As a good operator, your technology should allow you to manage these datasets seamlessly. Investors and owners are going to want to see that data to learn and understand what partners are best to work with going forward.
Flex 3.0 is about the integration of the experience across a much broader range of products than just office space – this could be amenities, event space, smart suites spec suites, the traditional lease space as well! Flex 3.0 is truly a fully integrated workspace experience!
OfficeRnD Analytics gives your team all the information needed to run your space with detailed dashboards tracking revenue, traffic, occupancy, bookings, and utilization. So you can spend more time making decisions and less time making reports. Analytics is available today for all users.
The OfficeRnD Marketplace allows you to add custom Stores into a digital marketplace. Occupiers can easily view these stores through the member portal to purchase goods and services. Marketplace is available for customers today with the Premium Branded Apps.
Floorplan booking gives your members the ability to easily select a floorplan view from the meeting room calendar and book a desk, room, or office visually from the floorplan. We aim to release this feature by the end of Q2.
The OfficeRnD Partnership program aims to create an ecosystem of partners, who can support flex space operators, landlords, and property managers in the setup and operation of flexible workspaces.
We plan to partner with more consultants, technology vendors, and proptech companies to build a dedicated OfficeRnD Community.
If you are interested in being part of the partnership program please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The future of work is flexible! Giving the flexibility to choose where to work from and the means to manage this complexity is a challenge for all workplace professionals – from HR and office admins to community managers and landlords!
Join us at OfficeRnD’s first ever virtual industry conference in October to tackle that challenge together. You will hear experts talk about the latest industry trends and get a sneak peek of what’s coming in our range of products.
You can sign up for the waiting list at flexworld.io
The core focus of the OfficeRnD product team for the rest of 2021 includes:
Everybody gets Analytics Dashboards. The OfficeRnD Marketplace is available to customers who subscribe to the Premium White Labeled app.
Not in the near future – the admin platform is best utilized on Desktop. We are looking at ways we can introduce core admin tasks into a mobile, we are still not sure on the best way to implement this – but we are looking to improve the most commonly performed tasks by front of house staff on mobile.
Definitely – we’ve made the first step with OfficeRnD Reception but we are looking to expand on this functionality. This is absolutely something we want to do sooner rather than later.
Absolutely yes – even now, you can create custom resources and limit availability for a specific team in a specific office. This floorplan view will further improve and visualize the booking process. It can be used for normal rooms and desks as well as custom resources.
We actually have an app called OfficeRnD Reception that does this now. Mail workers or front desk managers can check a package in and the member will get a message notifying them that their package has arrived.
We will look into this, but we haven’t made any decisions into the near future. It is one of those things that are out there and we need to tackle at some point. Looking into our open APIs and external integration partners might be the best route for this currently.
This is a really cool idea – we have not built this out for the first version but this is absolutely something we would like to enable in the future.
Analytics will have the same permissions as reports. If the team member can see the reports section they will be able to see analytics.
Yes, we built Marketplace to allow operators to sell anything. It is more focused on food and beverage in this first version but you can absolutely add furniture and sell to customers.
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