Flexible co-working space set to make up 20% of Bristol office letting deals this year

Employment & Skills | Reports | South West

Flexible co-working space is predicted to make up 20% of all Bristol office letting deals completed this year, according to leading property consultants JLL.

Major new co-working spaces that have launched this year are expected to account for 120,000 sq ft of total office space let in Bristol by the end of 2018. Key players that have opened in the city include Desklodge on Redcliffe Way and Runway East, off Bristol Bridge, whilst another two sites are ‘under offer’ to co-working providers in the city centre.

JLL’s research unpicks the main drivers of the sector’s boom – including evolutionary changes in how, when and where people work, shifts in lifestyle, and rapid advancements in technology – and provides unique insights into the risks and rewards for both companies occupying the space and property investors.

The flexible office space market, or ‘flex space’, has more than doubled in size since 2014 across Europe with it predicted to grow by up to 30% per year over the next five years, according to JLL’s new report, Disruption or Distraction.

The growing popularity of co-working space has also given rise to a new hybrid commercial space product. Conventional landlords are in some cases offering fully fitted-out office space with telecoms cabling, broadband and high spec interior design, ready for companies to move into, rather than the conventional model of occupiers taking a lease and then carrying out their own fit-out.

Hannah Waterhouse, director in JLL’s Bristol office, says co-working space is here to stay: “It’s been pretty staggering to see the shift in the Bristol market – with 20% of all office letting deals this year expected to go to flexible co-working space. And whilst it has its practical challenges for business, it’s definitely more than a fad.

“Flexible work space offers businesses, from start-ups and freelancers to major companies and international corporates, bright, open places where people work, meet, network and collaborate. And with some really exciting new places now on offer here, it’s not hard to see why Bristol has been named third best in the UK for co-working space.[3]

“The traditional offices market is playing catch up and the irony is that many younger businesses and start-ups have actually been pushed into taking flexible co-working space because conventional premises have stuck to rigid terms. If they haven’t had three years’ worth of accounts or the ability to commit to a long-term lease, then conventional office space has remained out of reach to many. The market has certainly woken up to that, with investors and owners becoming much more creative and flexible in their approach.”

Dan Brown, head of flex space, EMEA, JLL, commented: “The rise of flex space is resulting in one of the biggest shifts across the real estate industry that we’ve ever seen. The consumerisation of real estate, which we’ve already witnessed in hospitality and retail, is reshaping business models and investment strategies alike. Our research shows how different markets and different companies are moving at varying speeds, and as the dramatic growth showing no signs of slowing, companies, investors and developers must keep on top of the evolution to understand what this means for their specific business ambitions.”

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