2017 saw a significant shift of strategy for newer operators in the flexible office space (flexspace) industry. Technology giant IBM signed a membership agreement with WeWork for all 600 desks at 88 University Place – the first reported case of a single corporation taking an entire WeWork space in New York. A WeWork spokesperson claimed that the company had five buildings worldwide that were occupied by one or two companies, and that companies with more than 500 employees accounted for 20 per cent of WeWork’s membership.
This was not by accident. IWG and other flexspace operators have, for a number of years, worked with large corporates requiring larger space and even whole buildings. This is in addition to the majority of their clients, who are SMEs, start-ups and freelancers. It’s this increased uptake by corporates that is driving the bottom line for flexspace operators, and they’re keen to capitalise.
Tech companies have been keen adopters of flexspace for a number of years and this shows no sign of letting up – in October Google leased 24,000 square feet of an IWG property in Toronto. In the UK last May, HSBC signed an agreement for more than 1,000 desks at a WeWork building in Waterloo.