Hybrid work, flexspace and franchise partners: now and next

Hybrid work, flexspace and franchise partners: now and next

Hybrid working is continuing to shape the way people work and economies evolve. It also presents new opportunities for real estate investors.

Defined as a combination of home-based work, time in a dedicated HQ and shared flexspace, the hybrid model has flexibility at its heart. And it is revolutionising the way companies do business and employees manage their personal and professional lives.

As a consequence, firms are looking at different real estate options, diversifying their footprint with a mix of city centre offices and suburban coworking space close to their employees’ homes to suit everyone’s needs. For franchisees, investing in flexspace is a savvy move as this bull market is on the up – whereas retail and dining premises have a more precarious shelf-life, coworking is the new reality and the boom is only just getting started.

Catering to demand

A recent survey of 2,000 people from UK employment agency Reed revealed that three quarters of office workers have been offered more flexibility, with 29% working on a hybrid basis already (plus 37% solely working remotely and 34% in the office).

However, of those employees surveyed who weren’t hybrid working, almost half (45%) said they would consider changing jobs to be able to work on this basis. Of those willing to leave, 68% said that hybrid working would suit their lifestyle better. 

“Hybrid working is the work revolution that seems to be here to stay, as office-based organisations adjust to what is becoming the norm,” says Ian Nicholas, Global Managing Director at Reed. “Our research has found that hybrid working is more and more popular among the UK workforce, with three quarters being given the option to work on a hybrid basis already.”

Indeed, 60% of those who said they are working on a hybrid basis added that it has improved their work-life balance.

Nicholas adds, “Additionally, businesses not offering hybrid working are set to lose out on talent as office workers are prepared to leave to find a role that offers more flexibility.”

This is already evident in many countries across the world. In the US, for example, the number of people who quit their job hit a record figure of 4.4 million in September 2021.

Nicholas adds, “With employers facing a candidate-driven market and job vacancies reaching an all-time high, hybrid working is a vital tool for businesses to attract and retain new talent. However, it also offers them other benefits, as employees report they have a better work-life balance and are more productive at work.”

Investing in change

By 2030, global commercial real estate company JLL predicts that 30% of all commercial real estate will be flexible workspace.

With this new model now entrenched in the mainstream, franchisees who choose to partner with IWG benefit by tapping into a variety of established global brands, from Regus and Spaces, to HQ and Signature, which has an overall network of around 3,500 flexspaces and serviced offices catering to a global business community of eight million people. 

Not only this but the provision of flexspace in suburban towns and villages supports the ability for people to work close to where they live. In turn, this means a reduction in time spent commuting and spending is no longer concentrated in cities.

For example, a recent economic impact study by IWG and Arup showed that the new wave of flexible office spaces in the UK could result in local spending worth up to £171m a year.

Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of IWG, said: “Over the last 18 months we’ve seen businesses not only recognise the benefits hybrid working has on their productivity and their bottom line, but this report demonstrates its growing importance to local communities too. Throughout the UK we are seeing previously dormitory towns and villages come back to life as workers split their time between home, a local workspace and corporate HQ.

He continued: “With hundreds more rural and suburban flexible working locations expected to open in the coming years, we expect a wide range of vibrant local communities develop with thriving businesses at their heart.”

Looking for a new franchise venture? Learn more about opportunities with IWG.