Interesting that each year, as we step into the new year, one of the first financial negatives is the  yearly ritual of the rise in rail fares. Insult to injury when in nine out of the last ten years those rises have been more than the rate of inflation, while the overall service as far as commuters are concerned has deteriorated. Add to that the average travel time, frequently spent standing up, that can easily average two hours a day, then this wasted time can definitely be better spent.

This is one of the reasons but not the only one, for the proliferation of a much more flexible business model that is gradually breaking down the traditional 9-5 UK working day and offering the possibility of working much closer to home.

The serviced office

Known by various other names or brands but offering in most cases facilities for a small, or large, company to move in at very short notice. The "serviced" aspect means you have no electricity, water, cleaning or broadband bills to worry about. No furniture to buy, with a receptionist area to take calls, handle mail plus areas to print or scan documents and maybe a communal kitchen or rest area. All of that stuff that can take an age to sort out prior to moving in is on tap already, rolled into a monthly bill for the space and all facilities. The price varies and may cost a little more per month than leasing or purchase but the ease of the whole procedure and ability to scale quickly more than makes up for any additional capital outlay.

This is an industry that has been around in some shape or form for nearly forty years, born out of the need to work on the move, usually in the inadequate space of a hotel room. Furnished at best business wise with a phone, desk, pad and pen. Hotels may have meeting rooms more to encourage trade fairs and expos but never really catered for life outside of them. And you had to be a guest of theirs anyway.

The internet has been around for some time also but together with huge advances in smartphones, broadband speed, reliability and security, business has been set free. The growth and maturity of cloud based applications and advances in technology have contributed greatly to the manner in which we can work efficiently. This collection of positive circumstances has created a flexible workspace bandwagon that, although mature, has not plateaued at all and is attracting fresh investment lured by the continued growth of the business model, not just in the UK, with no sign of slowing up.


Whereas initially the "flexible" part of flexible office space referred more to the size off the office and  length of the rental, these days it means far more than that. There is a realisation that you cannot put all your eggs in one style of office basket and the look of the space you are renting out could be key to the kind of occupant you want to reach. These are some of the options available, either direct or through brokers, that match company personality with work space.


Plenty of buildings offering these but a dated format and the new players in this industry will be offering something superior for sure. They can be large or small rooms with desks, cabinets and all communications in place. For urgent projects where you need to throw a task force together quickly but temporarily and meet deadlines, the level of flexibility and speed of access that serviced offices offer is unrivalled.

A small business may scale up significantly in a short space of time if their start-up takes off and all they need to do is to just relocate to a larger office space, possibly within the same building.


They tend to be open area environments ideal for the smaller company. Can be just a desk or two having the bonus of networking, sharing ideas etc. with other similar enterprises as in a tech hub. They exist everywhere, not just city buildings. Now available in airports, motorways, ferry terminals, anywhere where business is transacted. Frequently with membership that allows you to drop in any of that group's offices and use their facilities in the UK or abroad.

Open plan

Sometimes indistinguishable from a Starbucks, except larger, that usually has good coffee available and a relaxed working atmosphere. Some offer alternative places to sit and work within the building, leaving your own space for a short while, roof terrace, break out areas, just for a change of scenery to keep the mind fresh and positive.

Virtual offices

For a one-man band or small company, these offer a range of facilities from reception, call-answering and mail handling, prime address and you can expand out of the home office into one of the options above when the time is right.


Not every building can offer a café, gym or showers and cycle storage but some do and somewhere down the line this will reflect in your monthly cost. One of the more recent innovations in this area

however will make a huge difference to working mothers. Cuckooz Nest, who have a great deal of property expertise, offer creche facilities with integrated workspace for mothers with young babies. What a difference that could make to a young family!


The need for flexible workspace will continue to expand, fuelled by technology and staff comfortable in their environment will be more productive, rather than working on a production line. There is also a low interest investment climate where finance houses can raise huge war chests of money  to support the right opportunity and the belief that the serviced office sector is it.

The sector also has something extra at the top of any potential unicorn's wish list - global scalability and the flexible office serviced industry, as yet, is not over serviced, though those new to the party have got some catching up to do.