Two interrelated trends have combined to shape and define demand for office space at the global and regional level in recent years – the increased demand for flexible offices, and the growth in remote working and working from home (WFH).
While both of these trends predate COVID-19, the global pandemic has exacerbated their influence, and their impact on how office spaces are reimagined for many years to come, according to global property consultant JLL.
JLL’s latest report highlights the evolving nature of office spaces and the attractions, limitations and market trends that will emerge as a result of flexible space being applied on a sustained basis. The report indicates that flexible space will take a different form than it has in the past, but will continue to grow as corporates and investors respond to the increasing demand for flexibility brought on by COVID-19.
“While we believe there is some short-term pain as demand for flexible office space contracts, it seems certain to grow in the mid-to-long term as businesses adjust and adopt solutions that increase their agility and reduce their response times. The impact is also expected to translate onto the business models of flexible office operators, resulting in a shift away from common facilities, shared services, and hot desks, to a corresponding growth in the proportion of private space, which ensures corporate privacy and data security,” said Dana Salbak, Head of Research for JLL MENA.
“In reality, in-office work and remote work are complementary, and neither can completely replace the other. The post-pandemic workplace will involve a combination of three distinct office environments: the corporate office, flexible co-working facilities and remote working. The challenge for occupiers will be to establish the right mix and balance between the different settings and working patterns.”
“On a regional scale, extensive strides have been taken by Dubai to ensure flexible workspace frameworks are fixed and maintained in line with intensified measures aimed at combating COVID-19. To meet the growing demand, there has been a rapid increase in total supply of flexible office space in the Emirate. Although the effort is gaining momentum, the level of flex space in Dubai remains below the EMEA average of 2.3%, suggesting there is room for further growth,” said Toby Hall, Director – Head of Office and Business Space Leasing for JLL MENA.