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Future Trends of Flex Space - with Annie Draper
September 19, 2023

Future Trends of Flex Space - with Annie Draper

As the hybrid work model continues to undergo rapid change, the concept of flex space has also evolved, with greater emphasis on personalization and continued innovation in flex working products. As the Director of Operations at The Square, Annie Draper and her team are at the forefront of this transformation, and in this interview, she shares her perspective on the coworking industry's latest developments and trends, as well as the most popular amenities at The Square and what exactly flex space means in today's hybrid work landscape.

What Are The Top 3 Amenities or Attractions You See Bringing Workers Back to The Office?

It really varies so much from person to person. Before COVID, we were used to coming to the office five days a week since that was just the standard, but now, what people need from an office varies so much, not just company to company, but even the individuals within those companies need different things from their office. So when you think about amenities, it's really breaking it down into what type of company you are, who your employee base is, and what they actually need. 

I think a big thing is choice: what a lot of clients and employees want today is the choice to work in different places based on what they're doing. For example, you can have a soft seating environment for collaboration, a conference room for more formal engagements or Zoom meetings, a quiet space for some head-down work, and private spaces for more private types of work. So I think choice is really important. 

Wellness in the office is also a huge thing. Wellness can mean all sorts of different things, natural light, natural plants, access to amenities like a wellness room and a mother's room, and a food and beverage program. I think a lot of those things come into that wellness component.

What is Flex Space?

I think the answer to that question honestly has changed pretty dramatically, even during my career. When it first started out it was intended to be a product that opened up the world of office space to small and medium-sized companies, but I think what we're seeing now is this need for a spectrum of office products that are beyond the 10 or 15-year leasing cycle, that we have historically seen in commercial offices. 

For example, Flex Space to me means anything from a desk or a conference room someone needs for a few hours, to a suite that a solo entrepreneur needs for a year. It could also be six months for a law firm who's looking to break into a new market and they want to test the waters and figure out where they want to be. So, if you ask me what flex space means, Flex is a spectrum and it means a lot of things to a lot of people these days.

What Are The Future Trends in Coworking?

For me, one of the biggest trends that we're going to start seeing more of is the need for lessons learned from co-working to be applied to broader-based buildings, and I think we're seeing this a lot in our Hines portfolio. What that means is co-working as a whole, as we're taking amenity spaces, as we're taking activation and programming, community managers, things of that nature, I think what we're going to start seeing is those elements being incorporated more into base buildings, along with new and different types of products.

So you might have an office product of really short-term, on-demand space, something that is more in the one-to-two-year term, or the three- to five-year term, depending on the size and type of business - I think we're going to start seeing a lot more of that. Some people might argue that that's not necessarily co-working, that we're getting away from the base idea of co-working. I personally think the base of co-working will always be there - we'll always see a lot of brands and operators that are operating under that more conventional co-working model, but for me, one of the big things that we're going to start seeing are office buildings taking elements from co-working to provide a new and differentiated office product to clients to use in their buildings. I think this trend is going to continue to increase over the next several years.


Flexible Space Solutions at The Square

At The Square, we are market leaders in flexible space for individuals and businesses. Our cutting-edge amenities, diverse workspaces, and customizable options make us the top choice for professionals seeking the ultimate workspace experience. Explore our Flex Suites to discover why The Square sets the standard for flexible coworking solutions.