New Research Finds Workspace Flexibility is Key to Economic Success

A new research report commissioned by the Business Centre Association, of which UBCUK is a Member, finds that the flexible office market offers invaluable support to UK businesses and contributes approximately £8 billion to GDP every year.

In an increasingly competitive environment, the flexible workspace sector has once again demonstrated its growing value to the UK economy.

According to a new report by the Business Centre Association, which surveyed 47 operators covering 647 centres, which included UBCUK, the flexible workspace sector grew by up to 32% to 1st January 2015 contributing an outstanding £8bn of GDP per annum.

Up to 2015, centre openings, turnover and employment within the survey sample in the sector grew exponentially. Employment within centres rose by around 19% compared to a national average of just 4.3%, comprising 26,000 new and growing companies and 135,000 employees.

UBCUK has 8 business centres across the country spanning multiple regions and including:

  • North West: The report found that the North West combines both managed and serviced office space, creating the flexibility and diversity so important to the regional economy. UBCUK's flexible office space in Birchwood, Warrington, is a key contributor to the region's flexible space market and offers a professional business environment for growing SMEs and corporate project teams.
  • Midlands: UBCUK's flexible office space in the region - including Central Birmingham, Birmingham Business Park (Solihull) and Henley-in-Arden (Warwickshire) - is a prominent contributor to the Midlands' flexible space market. Research by Midlands commercial property agent, KWB, found that Q2 take-up in 2016 represented over 85% of the annual average take-up for offices in Birmingham city centre - and that the city is currently seeing expansions and growth in employment, which bodes well for the future.
  • Greater London: According to the BCA report, London leads in creating the most dynamic, receptive and responsive environment for new and growing companies with serviced and managed offices taking a central role. UBCUK's office space in Brentford, West London, is a key contributor to the region's flexible space market and offers a professional business environment for growing SMEs and corporate project teams. Furthermore Savills' Market Watch report on the M25 office market revealed that the Western Sector, incorporating Brentford, was the "strongest performer" in the M25 market during 2015 with high levels of demand and take-up.

With uncertainty on the wider economic horizon in the wake of the BREXIT vote, the sector is in an exceptionally strong position to withstand a downturn.

Looking to the future, Tom Mulvaney, Managing Director of UBCUK, said: "At UBC we are well aware of the value flexible serviced offices brings to local businesses of all shapes and sizes. This report, which demonstrates rapid growth in our sector all over the UK, shows that more businesses than ever before are turning to flexible workspace to help maximise their growth prospects without compromising on quality of environment."

According to Andrew Butterworth, Chairman of the BCA, the strength of the sector lies in the focus it puts on the customer:

“For successful flexible space operators, it is all about service, understanding the customer and being close to the customer is central to what we do. We, along with other operators, are concentrating on our positioning in the market place and making sure that buildings are targeted to the right type of occupiers whether that means priority given to collaboration, events, wellness and well being or more traditional approaches. We can easily adapt our buildings and models to meet and anticipate demand. It is this which gives the sector such resilience.”

Whilst economic forecasts may be troubling much of the economy, the flexible space sector looks set to continue to capitalise on its ability to reflect and respond, offering an increasingly rare stability to local economies.