Flexible offices and communal living have emerged as two new key trends – according to the latest Thought Leadership Report by global real estate advisory firm CBRE. The whitepaper reveals that fuelled by technology, and underpinned by a pursuit of wellbeing, the real estate sector is witnessing a demand for innovative ways of working and living, based around connectivity, flexibility and unique experiences.
In a dynamic and highly competitive market such as the UAE, employers are having to constantly evolve to retain talented employees, and central to this retention is the provision of an optimal place to work. As a result, employers are increasingly looking to new ways to encourage productivity whilst ensuring the health and wellbeing of staff. Agility, convenience and value have been cited by organisations as the key factors driving their decision to rent a particular office space. CBRE’s report reveals that organisations are anticipating a migration towards activity-based, unassigned workplace strategies in the short-term.
The report also highlights the increasing popularity of flexible office space in the GCC- a trend that follows developments in key markets across the globe. Co-working is being predominantly driven by millennials and advancements in technology that allow employees to work remotely and across borders. This trend was one that initially appealed mainly to entrepreneurs and freelancers. However, due to changes in the economy, even traditional office tenants have increasingly transformed their approach to real estate decision-making and are now shifting towards more flexible office spaces.
CBRE highlights that the desire for increasingly agile workspaces will continue as technology evolves. Owners, occupiers and service providers are consistently having to source innovative solutions to deliver highly effective workspaces, differentiated assets and optimised portfolios. Enabling technologies, including cloud computing, will continue to empower employees, and employers, to embrace flexible ways of working. However, it is important to note that companies are still denoting the importance of maintaining a strong culture. As a consequence, organisations must find ways to carefully balance co-working with collaboration and connectivity.
Gabriella De La Torre, Director, Strategic Advisor at CBRE MENAT, said: “As the UAE continues to diversify into a highly competitive knowledge-based economy with talent at its core, we are seeing an increasing number of companies look to ever more innovative ways to raise productivity levels whilst ensuring employee happiness. Coworking is a trend that we expect to continue to evolve in line with continued technological advances and this will hugely impact the way that service providers, occupiers and landlords approach the leasing and operations of commercial space.
Those that demonstrate a strong ability and desire to adapt to changing economic and social dynamics will be the best placed to succeed in this growing market”.
Globally, the shift towards a sharing economy continues to grow and this is extending to accommodation. As such, developers are rapidly adapting to respond to these changes. It is evident that there is an increased need for a more cost-effective style of living – combined with a sense of community, particularly amongst millennials.
According to CBRE’s report, another key driver behind the shift is an increasing focus on recreation and well-being. Accommodation that can offer an experience focused on health, well-being and leisure – combined with flexibility and value for money – are sure to attract and retain millennials.
Some of the features that occupiers of co-living projects are looking for include hassle-free & flexible leases, as evident in the provision of short-term contracts and fully furnished and units, which require little investment and maintenance. Additionally, affordability remains a key factor, alongside privacy, where private living spaces that provide a welcome retreat are complemented by welcoming communal facilities. Other popular characteristics include communal spaces that foster networking and relationship building, as well as a strong community lifestyle.
The report reveals that CBRE expects the popularity of the co-working and co-living models as well as the key drivers impacting these shifting spaces to continue influencing other real estate sectors moving forward.