Flexible Space Requires Flexible Furniture

Society is rapidly shifting away from ownership in the traditional sense. We are moving instead towards a system of shared resources where we can get access to the things we need when we need them and someone else can use them when we don’t. It is no surprise that this schema is being applied to real estate, one of the most expensive and limited resources that we have.

Even though WeWork has dominated the flex space conversation recently, the growth of technique is undeniable. Even the biggest occupiers are looking at flex space as a way to prepare for an uncertain future. It is apparent that coworking is leading the charge in companies moving away from permanent long-term occupancy to flexible space. Today “temporary or flexible” is defined as anything under three years.

JLL has an interesting study circulating JLL Trends – Flex Space that suggests we will continue to see significant shifts in how space is being used in the near future. Right now, flex space inventory accounts for less than 5 percent of U.S. office stock. In the future we believe that number will skyrocket to as high as 30 percent of the market by 2030. Think about it. When 30% of the office inventory is designated as flexible space and the term for the average office lease drops to less than 36 months there will need to be a supporting services of this new paradigm. At CORT we believe that furniture as a service is one of those services, critical to helping the flex sector grow and help the property industry adapt to a new world order.

We just completed a collaborative effort on behalf of Sierra Wireless and a sublease space they are working to fill. Atlanta based Joey Kline of JLL and I created a plan to leverage a Furniture as a Service (FaaS) solution.  This space is now on the market and ready for the right tenant to move on in. We have learned that there are a number of important ways that flexible furniture can help buildings lease faster, be more useful and provide a better experience. 

One of the ways that flexible furniture can help a building’s leasing team is by enabling the use of spec suites. Today leasing and management teams, supported by design professionals, create a plan to strategically outfit a vacant suite. The goal is simple. Create marketing opportunities and social media content, inspire physical tours, and present a vision for prospective tenants in how the space could look and function. All of this, of course, will hopefully help lease the space more quickly.

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Flexibility is key here. FaaS allows for the new tenant or commercial real estate team to change the furniture, return it or a combination of both. Some tenants want to customize the space for their own needs and aesthetics while others just want the convenience of taking the office just as they toured it. In the end, the decision to create spec suites is now more attractive than ever because of the reduced risks associated with purchasing furniture that, in the end, may or may not be the best long-term strategy.