Wales from Afar.jfif

Introduction

Remote Working Solutions in Wales

The directories within this website list the companies that provide flexible business space in the forms of private serviced offices, managed office spaces, co-working space solutions and other forms of flexible-leased office space to rent in various locations throughout Wales.

The motivation for the publication of these directories is twofold – firstly, we wanted to help increase the exposure of the companies that are helping to de-risk office space use for organisations in Wales.

And, secondly, we wanted to increase transparencies for the businesses seeking efficient and safe post-pandemic workplace solutions for their businesses.

Flexible workspace is not a new concept, it was first incepted around forty years ago when it provided solutions for travelling business people looking for places to do business whilst away from their usual workplace, that wasn’t a café or a hotel lobby.


The concept of business centres with meeting rooms, business lounges and private office rooms proved popular and the concept was rolled out globally by international office providers such as Regus and Servcorp as well as by national and local providers in Wales and throughout the UK.

Business centres provided flexible office space that was not leased but on shorter-term licence agreements. These flexible contracts provided short-term low-commitment office space arrangements and had the added benefit that commercial property overheads such as buildings insurance, furniture, utilities, receptions services, cleaning and other elements were included in the monthly rental, or licence, fee.

The concept of a shared workspace where the overheads were included within the rent wasn’t completely brand new as it was a similar model to barrister chambers, however, the pioneers of flexible business centres brought the model to a much broader spectrum of industries.

The concept became popular with start-ups and scale-ups due to the turn-key ready-to-go workplace element and also the fact that, due to the flexible nature of the occupational agreements, businesses could grow their footprint within a business centre as they grew.

The Great Recession of 2008 created a major catalyst for the trend in businesses using flexible workspace, also known as flex space - the drawn-out period of uncertainty led companies of all sizes and from all sectors to re-evaluate operational costs and led to a major reformulation of commercial real estate strategies.

In the decade following the recession, there was a major shift away from traditionally leased office space for rent. Companies found leases too onerous with exits only at lease expiries or at break options, on dates that were agreed upon during inherently different market conditions.

The growth of the flexible office and coworking industry was influenced by various factors – firstly, the financial distress experienced by companies tied into leases, as well as a general move away from ownership.


Consumers became less inclined to own products including cars, DVDs and CDs and this filtered into the business world. It was no longer as important for a business to own an office or lease an office on a long-term basis as workplace became another product to be reconsidered – office space began to be seen as less of a product and more of a service and the term Space-as-a-Service (SPaaS) entered into the business world lexicon.


The flexible office space industry expanded significantly in the period between 2010 and 2020 with well-established providers showing significant growth and a new wave of operators such as WeWork, which became almost household names due to their high-profile growth and marketing efforts, entered the marketplace.


Once seen as less characterful and de-individualised than other workplace options, business centres became more fashionable, and the choices of style, format, building, location, and services offered by office providers and operators grew exponentially.


The introduction of new international reporting standards (IFRS-16), that were introduced in 2019, brought about another shift in the popularity of flexible space as the new standards influenced many companies to opt for shorter-term leases on all business products and services including offices, for greater financial management efficiencies


The Black Swan that was Covid-19 brought with it an even greater demand for agile office space solutions for companies of all sizes.


The lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 rendered offices temporarily redundant and, for many, particularly those that were renting office space on conventional terms, fixed-term leased offices became intolerable liabilities on balance sheets.


Companies in Wales, as in the rest of the world, were forced to become participants in the largest homeworking experiment ever conducted.

With the help of cloud-based technologies and high-speed domestic broadband, though, many companies were able to operate efficiently and survive during extremely adverse conditions.

Flexible working, of course, had already been utilised for many years, but with varying levels of success – some companies had fully embraced it yet others had not. Having some staff in-office and others at home meant utilising hybrid management styles which were somewhat burdensome to many.


Whilst the homeworking ‘experiment’ was deemed a success for many, it was recognised that these new operational models had not yet been tested under normal market conditions and without governmental support such as furlough schemes.

Whilst the ability to have a workforce able to work from home, it was envisaged unlikely that there would be a permanent shift towards a 100% homeworking workforce in many companies.


However, many companies announced in 2020 and 2021 that they would be using the lessons learned from the pandemic to employ long-term flexible or hybrid working protocols.


Many announced that they would utilise flexible working within a hybrid working, or workplace, model, also known as hub-and-spoke office models that utilise a variety of workplaces:

  1. The home for tasks that can be carried out at home – this would likely be used for back-office and mid-office functions.

  2. Workspaces near home – these satellite offices will be used for periodic collaborative tasks and other functions that simply cannot be carried out at home. These would be strategically placed workspaces that would allow team members to travel to a workplace with minimal commute time and reduced exposure to public transport. This would have added benefits for the environment and for business’s green agendas.

  3. The main office or headquarter office – these would be somewhat re-purposed and placed in strategic locations. Within some hybrid working models, these will be used as somewhat of a showroom for a business for client engagement, launches, pitches, networking and other functions.

Here you will find a short video explaining hybrid working

Many global, UK-wide and Welsh companies have already announced their plans for moving towards hybrid working models and utilising remote working teams.

Facebook, for instance, has stated that up to half of their 50,000+ employees will continue to work remotely over the next decade, with the other half remaining working within a physical office due to the type of tasks that they engage in and due to the personal preferences of the individual employees.


Microsoft has announced that their employees have the option to work from home on a permanent basis or part-time basis if they wish, yet, whichever option they opt for will still have access to touchdown workspaces at Microsoft office locations.


And Nationwide has announced a permanent move towards a hybrid workplace model. They announced that the ‘experiment’ has proved that their teams can serve their 15 million members efficiently and effectively with a “large portion of their team working from home.”


Of course, sectors and company cultures within those sectors differ, and many companies announced that they will not adopt hybrid models in post-pandemic times. The leaders of both Amazon and Netflix see homeworking as a negative and will be favouring physical office spaces that allow for more face-to-face interaction in the workplace.


As the CEO of Toptal, Taso Du Val, stated in 2020, “there is no one correct answer to the balance of remote and in-office work.”


What has been observed is that there will be a transitional period post-pandemic as companies work out which models work best in terms of their cultures and their balance sheets.


It is predicted that companies will use be using office spaces that are available on flexible short-term and low commitment agreements to help them hone these new models in a de-risked testing environment.


What the two recent Black Swans have reminded the world is that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty and whilst flexible workspace will create business space for testing new models, it is predicted it will also provide longer-term business space solutions for many businesses.


Once seen as a solution for start-ups and SMEs, blue-chip multinational organisations are now clients of the operators and providers within the flex space industry.


Standard Chartered Bank, for instance, recently signed a deal with International Workplace Group (IWG) that will allow their 95,000 staff to use IWG’s 3,500 global locations for remote work as part of their hybrid workplace model.


Whatever commercial property model a company operates, it will be imperative that the post-pandemic workplace is Covid-compliant and that it de-risks all users of the space.


Flexible workspace providers and operators were amongst the first within the commercial real estate sector to adapt their properties to ensure that their workspaces were Covid-safe for their clients’ eventual return to the office.


Some of the measures taken by office providers and operators in Wales included:

  • Installing protective screens at reception areas

  • Fitting hand sanitation stations throughout properties

  • Installing social distancing signage and floor markings

  • Implementing more frequent cleaning cycles

  • Adopting deep cleaning and fogging protocols

  • Creating partitions in co-working spaces and shared offices

  • Limiting the number of lift passengers per journey

  • Reducing shared office space occupier densities

  • Generating greater fresh air circulation

  • Disinfecting air conditioning systems

  • Introducing full and ongoing training of staff on the latest Welsh government guidelines


These flexible office space companies also created new occupational products that created office space with even greater flexibility, including:

  • Developing a wider range of temporary workspaces such as touchdown offices

  • Creating off-site workspace solutions for collaborative work

  • Crafting multimedia hubs with ‘Zoom Rooms’ and other tech-enabled communication suites

  • Introducing office space timeshare agreements

  • Initiating day office rental and part-time office products

  • Creating a wider range of virtual business administrative support services


Some of the measures taken, particularly the adaptations to usable physical space, were similar to those taken by those within the hospitality and retail sectors, yet, the costs were borne by the flex space operators and providers as the industry did not receive the same levels of external support as other sectors.


This was, in fact, one of the motivating factors for the publication of this book – to increase exposure for these office space companies, particularly for those that do not have the same marketing budgets as national and international office providers that operate in Wales.


These flexible office space and workspace brands quickly read the market, understood the changing business environment and created solutions that satisfied the new requirements of business space users.


The second reason for publishing these directories was to attempt to increase transparency in the marketplace for the end-user of flexible space solutions.

With a growing number of provider companies and a growing number of products, the market can be somewhat difficult to navigate.


There is also an increased crossover between traditional leasehold office space and flex space options with traditional office space landlords now creating non-leased office space options, there are office space providers that create managed office space options that sit somewhere in-between private serviced offices and traditional office space for rent, and there is an increased number of subletting and assignment opportunities from existing office tenants that are looking to offload surplus office space or all of their office lease obligations.


As the metaphorical ‘dust’ from the pandemic begins to clear, companies in Wales will also have the challenges of Brexit to meet and will require increased agility to meet those challenges.


We hope that the publication of these office space company directories helps to cut through some of the noise and helps companies find their ideal post-pandemic and Brexit-efficient workplace solutions.


The directories pages are taken from our larger UK Flexible Workspace Providers Directory which can be found here - The Office Providers – UK Office Space Companies Directory


The following directory pages list the office providers and operators that provide serviced offices, private offices, managed office space, coworking spaces and other flex space solutions in key locations throughout Wales.


The directories are correct at the time of publishing and live versions can be found on the link above.


The directories list established office and coworking space brands and do not list flexibly leased office space or sublet office space for rent.

We hope that the publication of these directories is useful and that it can help companies in their journeys to find the best post-pandemic workspace solution for their businesses.

For further information regarding utilising flexible office space as a part of your remote working in Wales strategy, please contact us.