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How Freelancers Are Redefining the UK's Office Market

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Since the recession of 2008-2009, the UK and western economies in general have been experiencing a seismic shift in the way many businesses are operated. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the commercial office market.

Gone are the days when companies could afford to have over-sized and under-used workspaces. Bloated business structures have given way to a much leaner environment and attitude - flexibility is the new watchword, with increased productivity and a better creative atmosphere high on business owners agenda.

This shift has given rise to a huge increase in flexible office spaces and a big demand amongst freelancers for co-working facilities.

Yet what are the benefits that flexible working brings? In this article we share the key features andadvantages.

Characteristics

Forget rigid or open-plan office layouts, flexible workspaces are often a combination of the two. Co-working generally involves renting a space or desk at a shared office. There are no fixed places– the choice of desk will differ on a daily or weekly basis, which has a number of creative benefits:

• Increased communication between office occupants

• Improved creativity through the sharing of ideas

• An ability to move places if the occupant desires, avoiding potential conflicts

A freelancer will usually pay a daily, weekly, monthly or even hourly rate to access these services.

In order to save money and avoid committing to lengthy property leases, these environments are attracting a wide variety of business owners and independent contractors. Start-up companies often find their feet in co-working offices, while the flexibility also suits mothers who prefer to work at the times that suit their lifestyle.

Many flexible offices landlords now include refreshments in their package price, as they seek to attract the entrepreneurs that still spend much of their days in coffee shops across the country. Some spaces also have a community manager who oversees the office, and organises social gatherings for the businesses and freelancers that are based there.

Efficiency

The number 1 factor that is driving the office transformation is simple economics and efficiency. Start-ups are unwilling to enter into multi-year property leases while they are still unsure whether their business is viable.

Co-working or 'hot desking' can reduce the costs of running an office by up to 30%, so it is easy to see why the concept appeals. If business is going well, it is possible to take advantage on the 'addon'packages co-working spaces provide (such as meeting rooms and private office space). If cashflow is running low, a freelancer can still choose to work from home for a week or two in order to level out their finances.

Flexibility is now king and it has not gone unnoticed by established companies eager to join the workplace revolution.

Customer Service

Big business is also basing themselves at flexible workspaces. KPMG use a co-working office in London to build relationships with start-ups for mutual business benefit. In addition, it is a greatopportunity to meet clients in less formal locations – helping to modernise the image and win additional custom.

Hotel firms are even getting in on the game. Accor Hotels now rent workspace to hotel guests and others in major cities around the world, optimising their mid-day revenue to truly make hospitality a 24 hour provision.

It is likely that the trend will continue.

Companies like Google have structured their entire office designs on co-working style layouts, as they are eager to reap the productivity benefits it brings. Others are sure to follow suit in order to compete for the best employees, many of whom much prefer flexible working practices and the facilities on offer.

Forget rigid or open-plan office layouts, flexible workspaces are often a combination of the two. Co-working generally involves renting a space or desk at a shared office. There are no fixed places– the choice of desk will differ on a daily or weekly basis, which has a number of creative benefits

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