FLEXIBLE WORKSPACES AS INCLUSIVE GROWTH DRIVERS
FLEXIBLE WORKSPACES AS INCLUSIVE GROWTH DRIVERS: HOW COUNCILS CAN TURN UNDERAPPRECIATED ASSETS INTO DYNAMIC WORKSPACES
Thursday, 30 March
FLEXIBLE WORKSPACE AS INCLUSIVE GROWTH DRIVERS: HOW COUNCILS CAN TURN UNDER APPRECIATED ASSETS INTO DYNAMIC WORKSPACES
By Andrew Mistry, Senior Consultant
Local authorities of any size – central London boroughs, Home Counties, or rural or coast communities, have the power to create dynamic flexible workspaces that can foster and connect businesses, organizations, and communities. Flexible workspace – referring to the mix of private studios, hot desks, and open communal areas with flexible tenancy terms – is here to stay. Now that flexible working is the standard operating mode for workforces, city governments and local authorities are grappling with the cataclysmic change to town centres. To adapt, Council’s must recognise that flexible workspaces play a vital role in driving footfall, attracting different types of people, and supporting entrepreneurs. These assets can serve as key connector nodes in central cities and towns, providing support for job creation and economic development, particularly when they’re located near key connector nodes, such as transit stations, or places close to high streets.
However, local governments may not fully appreciate the potential of these assets in creating workspace environments that serve multiple uses: from supporting start-ups and move-on space for growing businesses, to coding classes for kids, to inspiring places for community events.
At Inner Circle Consulting, we have worked with councils to create these types of dynamic flexible workspaces in Weston-super-Mare, Hatfield, London, and beyond. Our Prosperous Inclusive Places mission has guided our work in ideation, business case development, marketing and audience outreach, design development and fit out, and operations and delivery.
Where can local authorities leverage their power and assets? One of the key advantages local governments have when it comes to creating dynamic workspace is their long-term outlook. Unlike the private sector, which may be more focused on short-term profits, local governments can take calculated risks to support job creation and new businesses. This means that they can afford to think creatively about how to use their workspace assets to incubate and connect a range of businesses and organizations.
So, how can local governments get it right when it comes to creating valuable workspace assets? Here are six tips to consider:
- Partner with the right team and workspace operator. It’s essential that both parties understand the vision and long-term objectives for the workspace. This includes considering the needs of the community and the businesses that will be using the space.
- Embed social value in your brief. It’s not just about providing workspace; it’s about creating an ecosystem that supports local entrepreneurs and promotes economic development. Be clear about the social and community goals that you hope to achieve through the workspace. Companies like Patch, X+Why, and others are doing this well.
- Keep an open mind about design. While it may be tempting to try and replicate the success of coworking giants like WeWork, it’s important to remember that what works for one community may not work for another. Instead of following trends (Web3, crypto), consider the unique needs and characteristics of your community and design a space that reflects those needs.
- Put community first, including young people. Don’t just focus on the needs of the current generation; think about what the future generations will need as well. This may mean including features like virtual reality rooms or ultra high-speed internet connections for esports and gaming.
- Lean on your local heritage. The best workspace assets are those that reflect the history and culture of the local area, while also looking towards the future. Explore the history of your community to draw design inspiration and create a space that excites the market.
- Remember that workspace is a long game. It can take more than a year to fill a workspace, especially if it’s not located in a central location like London. Don’t get discouraged by short-term challenges; stay confident in your plans and your team, and be patient as you work to create a valuable asset for your community.
As local governments look for ways to revitalize their communities and support economic development, they should remember the potential of their workspace assets. By considering the needs of the community, keeping an open mind about design, and staying patient, local governments can create dynamic spaces that benefit their communities for years to come.